In her discussion of the iconographically related headcrest in the Musée Barbier-Mueller in Geneva, Boullier (in
Mattet 2007: 174) notes: "A feature of the art of the Cross River region is the use of the technique - unique in Africa - of covering a sculpted wooden armature with animal skin, mainly for head crests and helmet masks. The tanned pelt, when stretched over the wood, imitates the grain, brilliance and volume of human flesh and renders these works surprisingly lifelike. The kaolin or light metal eye whites and dark wood pupils enhance this effect. [...] The monumental hairstyle is composed of five coiled plaits or braids, unusually large in African statuary and masterful in the perfection and symmetry of their coils. Ethnographic accounts report that this hairstyle was worn by young women during initiation and the period of reclusion prior to marriage."
The impressive Ejagham Headcrest from the Allan Stone Collection is distinguished by its archaic, highly naturalistic style and the spectacular coiffure of great curling braids. Only a handful of works of comparable quality and age are known, including: one in the Tropen Museum, Amsterdam (inv. no. "5133-62"); a second in the Musée du Quai Branly, Paris (inv. no. 71.1948.8.2 D", Monti 1964: 1377); and a third in The Cleveland Museum of Art (inv. no. "1990.23", Petridis 2003: 88). Lifelike, severe and almost hypnotic in its expression, the Allan Stone Ejagham Headcrest is the most major example of its kind to remain in private hands.