Tribal art > African mask > Ijo Mask
Ijo Mask (N° 19307)
Sculptures of African art and "cubist" tribal masks
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This mask from the central Ijo region, standing out from the style of the Ijo Kalabari, is associated with the spirits of nature. It was used by one of the male brotherhoods sekiapu or "dancing people" who wore it obliquely on the head. The central panel with a stylized face with protruding eyes is extended by three tubular protrusions, while the upper panel has two tiny faces separated by vertical elements. The patina is a matt, mottled patina with polychrome highlights. Desiccation cracks.
The Ijo of the Niger Delta live mainly from fishing and agriculture, and their small villages are located in swampy areas west of the Nun River, so their cosmogony has naturally centered around this environment. References to their warrior past also abound in reliquaries, rituals and masked celebrations.
Their masks and other artistic productions are intended to honor the aquatic spirits, which they venerate and to whom sacrifices were made. The Ijo believe that spirits and humans come from the same place called Wonyinghibou, or Mother Forest, and return there after death to await new life. Only women give birth: the Ijo therefore consider that the creator, Wonyinghi, is feminine. They also consider that all their masks, zoomorphic or anthropomorphic, Owumo , are water spirits. ("The Other Face", ed.A.Biro and "Arts of Nigeria" ed.5Continents).
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