From our African Collection: A Nigerian Eket Figure, circa 1950. 5 x 18".
"The Eket are a people who live in this region. They are a sub-group of the Ibibio people. Eket is also the name of the main sub-language that they speak, a Benue–Congo language. Both languages are similar, but sufficiently distinct to give away the precise district the speaker originates from. The Eket have a form of caste or class society, with the "Amama" being the highest caste, and these are notable for undertaking traditional potlatch-like feasts in which the poorer people are fed en masse. In addition to the Amama, groups of "Ekpo Ndem Isong" class rule individual villages and towns, and their will is enforced by the "Ikan" class (traditional masked police) to which entry is by merit rather than birth.
The local religion is one of ancestor-worship, worship of Ala the "earth deity", and seasonal agricultural festivals. Water is abundant in the Niger delta, and the vegetation luxurious. However, over-farming and poor farming practices are depleting soil nutrients on many farms and plots.
Common surnames include Odungide, Edoho, Etukudo, Udoakagha, Ukpong, Etteh (actually meaning father),Udofia, Ukoetuk, Uku, Abia and Nsien. Just like the remainder of West Africa, the family name normally is an indicator of which specific region one is from."