Lip PlugArtist(s)Object Creation Datecirca 1890-1920Medium & SupportbrassDimensions
1 9/16 in x 1 9/16 in x 1 15/16 in (3.97 cm x 3.97 cm x 4.92 cm)Credit LineGift of Dr. James and Vivian CurtisSubject matter
This object listed as made by Kirdi peoples, while most likely correct, is not without issue. “Kirdi”, meaning pagan, was the label given to the various peoples from northern Cameroon, northeastern Nigeria, and southern Chad by neighboring Fulani and Kanuri peoples because they did not practice Islam, while the latter do. The people collectively known as “Kirdi” are actually many different cultural groups with their own customs. However, due to a lack of information on where exactly this object came from, it is not possible to say with certainty which group of people created it.
Based on the size of this object, it could have possibly been a lip plug. Lip plugs, worn by girls and women, were used to enhance a person’s beauty. At a young age, girls would have their lip pierced with a thorn until it was around 2 cm. At that point, a lip plug of clay, metal, wood, or stone was inserted.
Gebauer, Paul. 1979. Art of Cameroon.
Portland, Or.: Portland Art Museum.
Lembezat, Bertrand. 1961. Les populations païennes du Nord-Cameroun et de l'Adamaoua.
Paris: Presses Universitaires de France.
Lembezat, Bertrand. 1952. Mukulehe; un clan montagnard du Nord-Cameroun; coutumes, rites, croyances.
Northern, Tamara. 1984. The Art of Cameroon.
Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution.
Page, Donna. 2007. A Cameroon World.
New York: QCC Art Gallery Press.Physical Description
Large brass ring with a flared bottom edge and a pattern of diagonal bars along the top and bottom edge. There are also concentric semi-circles along the bottom edge. The top of the ring is decorated with a large undulating line with a central incised groove. Primary Object Classification Jewelry Primary Object Typebody ornamentCollection AreaAfricanRights
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symbols of office or status
women (female humans)