The Mandaras site which Rand posted -- http://www.mandaras.info/EthnicGroups.html
-- with the extensive listing of ethnic groups in that
region -- is yet another reminder of the complexity and diversity of African culture and of the necessity of further exploration to understand accurately the origins and symbolism of works discovered as well as to know better peoples whose lives and practices remain little known or understood. The dangers inherent in reducing the classifications of objects to fit within a limited range of "major" groups include both mis-identification of the objects and the missed opportunity to appreciate fully the rich historical and symbolic data that such objects may carry. Stepping down from my soapbox, I will see what information I can find and share regarding the Marghi and Mufu shields which you posted.
Presently, with regard to the Igbo objects -- the door and the chalk tray...
I am not certain of the specific use or significance of the "door" (Igbo: mgbo ezi) you have
gathered; it could be either a panel of a mgbo ezi, placed in the entrance to a living compound, or possibly an azu oji, a similarly carved (and less costly) single panel traditionally placed behind obu (men's house) altars within a compound. According to Nancy Neaher, such carvings, in both instances, are considered to be the traditional "prerogative of highly ranked members of the prestigious northern Igbo mens' association, ozo...Those who succeeded in reaching the pinnacles of ozo, usually in old age, were entitled to commission sculptors to carve mgbo ezi...In addition to those at the main entrance to the compound, panels might also be placed within the ozo member's obu or as enclosing wall panels on one or more sides." (Neaher, pp 50-51.) These doors or panels are carved from iroko (Igbo: oji), the heavy and durable African oak.
An additional direct quote I cannot resist including is a statement regarding the nature and quality of the geometric relief carving that I think you will appreciate: "Diamonds, squares, rectangles, and triangles are juxtaposed on fields of rich textures created by narrow grooved hatchings and tiny, dented studs...Graceful loops, half-moons and quatrefoils may also span a section in pleasing counterpoint to enframing lines. The repetition of striations, curved and angular, lends to the surface an illusion of compressed energy, resulting in oscillating rhythms reminiscent of Op Art illusions. The diminutive serrations and elongated lines catch and reflect light with the full strength of the sun's rays. In Western experience, this shimmering effect is less associated with wood relief than it is with the qualities of fine cut glass." (p. 50) Hein?
In the article from which I have
quoted (Nancy Neaher, "Igbo Carved Doors," African Arts Volume XV, Number 1 [November, 1981], pp.49-55, notes p.88), the author explores some very intriguing speculations regarding the relationship between Itchi mens' scarification and this field of mens' production (wood carving) as well as the influence of uli women's body painting designs and the way in which the carving of the doors suggests to her the possible integration and synthesis of male and female stylistics in the designs on the doors. This is particularly significant symbolically in considering the mgbo ezi as a skin of the household. (Her study focuses on observations in the region of Awka in the Anambra State.)
Finally for now...the GI Jones web-site has been BEAUTIFULLY re-formatted and is always worth a visit at http://mccoy.lib.siu.edu/jmccall/jones/
for images of a broad array of Igbo material culture.