African art > African mask, tribal art, primitive art > Igbo mask
Igbo Mgbedike mask (N° 20782)
The Igbo-Afikpo distortion in African art
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These African masks named "the time of the brave," sometimes in the guise of elaborate superstructures, bring together horns, spikes, and zoomorphic elements to personify bravery. The mask on the opposite page also features breasts surmounted by horns. The whole bears highlights of river clay, a white kaolin in relation to the ancestors, in opposition to the dark gray crusty patina.
These aggressive masks, accompanied by a motley paraphernalia of quills, raffia, palm leaves, and weapons,occur at spectacular festivals during the dry season, the most famous being the okumkpa, and at some funerals. The most voluminous are worn by the initiated mature men of the Ekpo society. Each of the mask wearers embodies a spirit whose name the mask adopts.
The Igbo live in the forest in southeastern Nigeria. They have managed to combine a strong sense of individuality with an equally strong sense of belonging to the group. Their political system is complex and little known. The village is the largest social unit, the smallest is the extended family. Each village has a high degree of autonomy and is placed under the authority of the oldest lineage chief.
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