African art > Mask > Masque Ijo
Ijo Crest Mask (N° 14094)
African art sculptures and tribal masks U.022cubistes"
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This mask associated with the spirits of nature was used by one of the male brotherhoods sekiapu or " people dancing" who wore it obliquely on the head. The stylized face with tubular eyes is extended in its lower part of a slightly curved blade on which is embossed a zigzag pattern ending with a volatile figure. The object was smeared with contrasting coloured pigments, locally flaked. Eroded matte surface.
The Ijos of the Niger Delta live mainly from fishing and agriculture, and their small villages in swampy areas west of the Nun River, their cosmogony has naturally focused on this environment. References to their warrior past abound in reliquaries, rituals and masked celebrations.
Their masks and other artistic productions are intended to honor aquatic spirits, oru or owuamapu , which they venerate and to which were intended sacrifices. Fishermen had to be careful not to offend these spirits or they could kill their wrath by means of the various dangerous animal species in the area, such as hippos, crocodiles or pythons. The Ijo believe that spirits and humans come from the same place called Wonyinghibou " our Mother the Forest", and that they return after death to wait for a new life. Only women give birth: the Ijo consider the creator, Wonyinghi , to be feminine. They also consider that all their masks, zoomorphic or anthropomorphic, Owumo , are spirits of the waters. ("The Other Face", ed. A.Biro and "Arts of Nigeria" ed.5Continents.)
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