African art > African mask, tribal art, primitive art > Igbo fetish
Igbo fetish crest mask (N° 20633)
This sculpture forms a miniature version of an Igbo crest mask, which was placed on the head. It includes a head in the image of the African Igbo Agbogo Mmwo mask, topped with a thick, backward-curving braid rising from a rattan-rimmed base. The emaciated face is coated with a white crusty patina, with lumpy, blackish residue covering the base and head.
The white color of the mask refers to ancestral spirits, as these masks frequently accompany the deceased during funeral rites. Indeed, mmwo means "spirit of the dead."
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The Igbo live in the forest in southeast 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 being the extended family. Each village has a high degree of autonomy and is under the authority of the oldest lineage chief. The Igbo religion includes on the one hand the god Chuku , supreme creator, considered omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent, and on the other hand the spirit of the earth Ala . Igbo masks embody a range of ancestral spirits in ritual ceremonies associated with the agricultural calendar.
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