G8I5M683.jpg (44238 bytes)Igbo (Ibo), Nigeria

Maiden spirit (aghogho) mask.  Eight million Igbo occupy the plateaus of eastern Nigeria. Living in thick forests or on semi fertile marshland, they grow yams, fish, and have a long tradition of commerce. They have no large towns. The outstanding characteristic of the many Igbo masks is that they are painted chalk white, the color of the dead or spirit (here the white color darkened). The present mask is a rather naturalistic type. The aghogho masks of this type were used by the mmwo society. Masked dancers costumed in bright colored patchwork pants and blouses, with their hands and feet covered, appeared at funerals. The masked dancers did not merely represent, but were believed to be, the spirits of the dead. They disguised their voices, aiming, as in so many African burial ceremonies, to induce the dead man’s spirit to enter the spirit world so as to avoid any harm to the survivors. The same masks were also used at the beginning of the dry season. Representing the delicate beauty of the woman, the dancers appeared wearing false breasts, associating human fertility with the fertility of the land.

Material: wood

Size: 20”x 7”x 10”

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