African art > Mask > Igbo Mask
Masque Igbo, Ibo (N° 18712)
Ex-collection British African art.
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Version of the African Igbo Agbogo Mmwo mask, this mask has thin horizontal incisions indicating the eyes, an emaciated face coated with white, scarifications and tattoos in checkerboard raised of a dark hue. Crusty patina.
The white color of the mask refers to ancestral spirits, these masks frequently accompany the deceased during funeral rites. Indeed, mmwo means "spirit of the dead". Igbo live in the forest in south-eastern Nigeria. They have managed to combine a deep 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 placed under the authority of the oldest head of lineage. The religion of the Igbo 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 during ritual ceremonies associated with the agricultural calendar.
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