West Africa, Nigeria, Ibibio peoples, ca. early to mid 20th century CE. A hand-carved wooden mask with a recessed visage, prominent nose and mouth, ovoid eyes with raised rims, a high-arching brow line, and a paddle-shaped crest extending from the top portion. The face displays a jet-black painted base color with an exterior border of chalky-white, and with crimson-hued accent lines denoting the jaw line, eye sockets, and eye brows. The Ibibio live in southeastern Nigeria on the Niger River Delta. Wealth in this society came largely from the sale of palm oil and the social dominance of certain individuals was reinforced through ritual dances that incorporated masks like this one, with articulated jaws. Some of these masks, however, also had spiritual significance -- like this one, which, by being painted dark (idiok), represented the souls of evil people condemned to suffer as ghosts. Those wearing idiok masks would perform at night to be additionally frightening! Size: 6.25" W x 13" H (15.9 cm x 33 cm).
Provenance: ex-Adeon Gallery, Chicago, Illinois, USA acquired prior to 1970
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Crest repaired from a few large pieces. Age-commensurate surface wear, small chips and nicks to nose, mouth, eyes, crest, and peripheries, with loss and fading to pigmentation, otherwise very good. Light earthen deposits throughout.