As a carving, the ivri is best known for its striking formal features. Most notable is the prominent fanged maw, apparently that of a quadruped. Often there are projections upward from the sides, and frequently the larger images support a central warrior figure, perhaps accompanied by attendants. Unfortunately, there is no consensus as to the meaning of any of these features. An animal seems to be the source of the imagery, but there is no agreement as to what type, and one finds arguments for leopards, hippose, and elephants. While the open mouth with prominent teeth may symbolize aggressive speech, the emphasis on large incisors certainly reminds one of a leopard.
Source: Anderson, Martha G. and Peek, Philip M. ed. (2002): “Ways of the Rivers: Arts and Environment of the Niger Delta”‚ Los Angeles, UCLA Fowler Museum of Cultural History. page 123