Wood | h 71 cm | 28,0 in. | 20th century


An amazingly carved Mbembe drumend representing a maternity figure. The Mbembe drums often with decorated ends on both sides are pretty well known. Typical about the drums is that the ends are carved in the same direction as the drum, they are cut against the grain, giving the drumends a very rough profile.
An elaborate ritual celebration preceded the selection and cutting of the tree from which the log for the drum was hewn. Hollowing and carving took weeks or months, over the course of which the artist’s tools required daily refortification by the associated deity.
The Mbembe, Okam, Okom or Cross River Mbembe live in Cross River state and also some live in Ebonyi state in Nigeria. The name “Mbembe” is given to a number of tribes who speak related dialects. The word “Mbembe” comes from their frequent use of the word “Mbe” (I say) to start a sentence. Today the Mbembe consist of five main tribes; the Adun, Osopong, Okum, Ofunbonga and Okpodon. Mbembe is also embedded in a cryptozoölogical mythical story of the Mokele-Mbembe which is similar to the monster of Lochness story.