figure (ritual & belief: representations)

Wooden female figure

Puppet plays, called aminikpo by the Ogoni, are a popular form of entertainment and typical represent standard characters including the respected chief, the magician, the senior wife, the beautiful daughter, and the drunkard. This marionette-like puppet, with moveable arms, may represent a ‘beautiful daughter’ character and may have been used by Ogoni puppeteers in their aminikpo plays. This female puppet is decorated with body paint designs that are applied for the ‘coming-out’ ceremony that completes the female initiation rites. Puppet plays comment on day to day life and politics, yet the puppets also represent the spirit world and the way they ‘speak’ and move their limbs is part of their mystery which is kept secret by the men who make the puppets and perform the plays. In the past the plays ridiculed colonial officers and they promoted moral standards by making fun of unacceptable behaviour. Today they help to preserve Ogoni identity in the face of environmental degradation and frequent political oppression.

Collection Information

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