One is immediately struck by the similarity of this figure to the one formerly in the Franklin Collection (Sotheby's New York, 21 April 1990, lot 140, and published in Northern, 1984, p.190, fig.128). Tamara Northern has described the present figure as "quite the equal of the ex-Franklin example". The size of the figures is very close and the style is very similar, with the body in the same proportion, the same arrangement of pegs around a hear-shaped face and the same angled form of the legs. Indeed it seems probable that this figure is the pair to the Franklin figure, a hypothesis which is strengthened by the realization that the sex of the Franklin figure has, on more than one occasion, been wrongly identified as male.
Northern's comments on the Franklin figure (1986, p.27) apply equally to the present sculpture: "Mambila sculpture at its best expresses intensity and controlled force. This figure is one such example and illustrates the recurrent features of Mambila figures: a heart-shaped face, detailed with small wooden pegs outlining its delicate shape, and the spring-like contained energy about to be released throughout by the rhythmically bent arms and legs."
Keith Nicklin (in Phillips, 1995, p.360) states: "the gesture of the left hand or both hands to chin in Mambila sculpture is characteristic of tadep figures connected with a healing association called Suaga.
The ritual paraphernalia were kept in granary-like storehouses adorned with painted screens (baltu). Two types of carved anthropomorphic figure were displayed in front of the storehouses: kike made from raffia palm pith, and tadep carved from wood. Both types were often made as a male-female pair and usually painted with black, red and white pigments. The style of the former is generally more abstracted than that of the latter."