Tribal art > African mask > Wurkun Mask
Wurkun/Bikwin Vertical Mask (N° 19340)
Classical design for a so-called anthropomorphic "shoulder" mask, the torso being represented thanks to the boxed base, a powerful neck protruding from it, supporting the head topped with a crest. Fine scarifications can be seen on the face, whose upper lip bears the circular imprint of a labret. The center of the cup-shaped ears has an opening. The small nipples grouped together on the panel with no opening for the eyes could symbolize healing marks. The vegetal fibers that were attached to the perforations of the contours made it possible to completely hide the wearer.
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Dark, satiny patina, locally rubbed with ochre pigments.
Good general condition.
Vertical masks of this nature were used in procession by neighboring groups, Wurkun/Bikwin , Mumuye, and Jukun, established in Middle Benue. This type of carving, which is used during illness, funerals, and commemorative feasts, is called sukwava among the Mumuye. The wearer of the mask probably holds it balanced on his head so that he can see between the two boards. They are associated with agrarian ceremonies to promote crops, health, and human fertility.
Litt. L'art et le Sacé en pays Mumuye"; "Arts de la Vallée de la Bénoué" ed. Somogy.
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