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Lip Plug

Accession Number
2000/2.94

Title
Lip Plug

Artist(s)

Object Creation Date
circa 1890-1920

Medium & Support
brass

Dimensions
1 5/16 in x 1 1/16 in x 3/16 in (3.33 cm x 2.7 cm x 0.48 cm)

Credit Line
Gift of Dr. James and Vivian Curtis

Subject 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.
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.

References Cited:
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. Paris: Berger-Levrault.
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
Flat piece of brass in a semi-circular shape with a round flat end and a raised braided pattern. 

Primary Object Classification
Jewelry

Primary Object Type
body ornament

Collection Area
African

Rights
If you are interested in using an image for a publication, please visit http://umma.umich.edu/request-image for more information and to fill out the online Image Rights and Reproductions Request Form. Keywords
ceremonial costume
costume accessories
lip plugs
social status
symbols of office or status
wealth
women (female humans)

1 Related Resource

Visual Cultures of Islam- Metalwork
(Part of: Visual Cultures of Islam )

& Author Notes

All Rights Reserved