Lot: 302

87th Tribal Art Auction

Mask "agbogho mmwo" ("maiden spirit")

Nigeria, Igbo

Provenance Size Starting price / estimated price
Belgian Private Collection, Liège (ca. 1970)
Emile Deletaille, Brussels, Belgium
Guy van Rijn, Brussels, Belgium (1987)
Dutch Private Collection, Eindhoven
H: 7.7 inch This object is not available anymore.

wood, polychrome paint, fine carved, elaborate ornamental facial tattoos incised and in bas relief, min. dam., small missing parts (rim), slight traces of abrasion, base. Northern Igbo masks take many forms: helmets of various configurations, face masks and a variety of headdress and crest types. The "agbogho mmwo" mask type symbolizes the ideals of juvenile female beauty and - with the ghostly white kaolin face- refers to the spirits of the venerated ancestors. The mask is worn by young men on harvest festivities ("yams rites") and on annual ceremonies in honour of the earth spirit "ane", as well as on pompous funerals of members of the society. The dancers were clothed in coloured tight costumes with false breasts.


Fagaly, William, Ancestors of Congo Square, New Orleans 2011, p. 212 f.