Igbo compound (ǹgwùlù) entrance and high walls (aja ǹgwùlù), in or near Önïcha. Photographed by Herbert Wimberley, c. 1903-18. Cambridge University Library.
Ohafia women with long braids fashionable in Ohafia at the time. Photographed by Rev. William T. Weir. From The Women’s Missionary Magazine of the United Free Church of Scotland, 1904. Google digitisation.
The Story of Dike Nwaàmị̀: Women Warriors of Ohafia [main Ụ́kpụ́rụ́ blog].
An Igbo compound entrance, in or near Önïcha. Photographed by Herbert Wimberley, c. 1903-18. Cambridge University Library.
“A Famous Were-Leopard”. Percy Amaury Talbot. Internet Archive.
The power of metamorphosis is generally termed Uworraw-Ukponn, corresponding to the Ibo word Ehihi, and is sometimes inherited, sometimes bought. […] Usually fast runners, and those who move with a peculiar creeping motion, are looked upon as leopard souls[.]
– Percy Amaury Talbot (1923). Life in Southern Nigeria. pp. 88, 106.
Many communities and lineages among Cross River peoples like the Ibibio and among different Igbo groups and beyond have special animals or vegetation that they have bonded with. In many cases, this came with the ability to take the form of the animal, plants, or trees through a projection of the individual’s consciousness which can happen at great distances such as from one’s home to an entity in the wild. The ability is usually first gotten through medicine and is hereditary. Sometimes these animals may have protected or saved the community before the bond. It is forbidden for members of such lineages to harm or harvest the animals, plants, or trees they have bonded with or allow others to do so because they are considered kin.
An Igbo woman from Nibo, present-day Anambra State. Photographed by Northcote Thomas c. 1911. MAA Cambridge.
An Igbo girl from Nibo, present-day Anambra State, with ùlì designs on her skin. Photographed by Northcote Thomas c. 1911. MAA Cambridge.
Double edged sword with a fluted blade from Arochukwu in the eastern Igbo area, c. 1932 or earlier. Pitt Rivers Museum.
A woman with crest hairstyle and ornaments, Igboland. Photo: Afrika Museum, Berg en Dal, Mid 20th century.
Titled elder Onyeso of Agukwu Nri washing hands for a rite before a shrine to Agwụ̀, a divinity of doctors (dibị̀à). Photographed by Northcote Thomas in 1911. MAA Cambridge.
Agwụ̀ is an entity of unconventionality and hence creativity that guides the dibị̀à. Agwụ̀ is related to strange occurrences and mishaps. Such occurrences are often signs to individuals that are destined to become doctors.
‘Stereoscopic’ gif made from two photos taken in succession of an Igbo man from Öka (Awka) by Northcote Thomas c. 1910-11.
25 July 1905. Uduk-Usaw. Boy.
Charles Partridge, in what is now Akwa Ibom State, Nigeria.
COMIC MASK FROM LUGHULU MASKERADE. ITEM TRIBE, ISU-ITEM I[G]BO
G. I. Jones; Sculpture of the Umuahia Area of Nigeria; African Arts, Vol. 6, No. 4 (Summer, 1973)
Ekpe (leopard society) meeting house
View of Ekpe meeting house in Umuajatta village, Olokoro near Umuahia. The house has a tall thatched roof and a wall painted by an Annang artist in the style of the Ngwomo ghost houses.
G.I. Jones, 1932 - 1938
IGBO “juju” figure called ARIOKU. brought out from hut shrine. “If a man swears falsely he is killed by ARIOKU”. c.5ft.10 inches high. Ichi scarification, mouth, + hands painted red. Old cornelian bead + feathers suspended on chest iron ring in rt. hand, red + yellow camwood powder on hands. near INYEOGUGU, ½ hrs. drive (? 20 miles) from OWERRI. 1/3/46., One of a group of 4 tall figs, 1 small fig., and one IKENGA figure.“
— William Fagg, 1 March 1946
Sobo [Urhobo or Isoko] dancers from Warri with locked hair. 1880-1905, Unknown photographer.
A washing pool in Calabar. Photo taken at the turn of the 20th century. Manuel Menedez.
Sword sheath found in Liberia in 1860s with “Old Calabar” written with ink. British Museum.
Two Hausa [mallams] Priests Rd Calabar C.R.N.M.
Manuel Menendez, 1890s, Calabar, Niger Coast Protectorate
Okoye, photographed at Agukwu Nri by Northcote Thomas, c. 1911. MAA Cambridge. The marks on his face are known as ichi, given to the people of Nri by tradition.
Masqueraders at Ugwuoba, present-day Enugu State. Eliot Elisofon, 1959. Smithsonian.
Masked and costumed men […] masquerade during the annual yam festival, called ‘Onwasato’ in [Igbo]. The very colorful costumes of reds, whites and greens in stripes are called Iyolo, which means 'fine thing.’ The raffia costumes are called Udo, which means 'rope.’ […] The dancers are milling up and down the main road through the village, charging back and forth senselessly, dashing through the market area, shouting and jumping, some blowing horns hidden inside their masks. This was the first day of a four-day celebration, and was the first 'showing’ of the masquerade costumes.
– Eliot Elisofon, 1959.