Lot: 280

99th Auction

Rare face mask "agbodogin"

Nigeria, Owo Yoruba / Ishan

Provenance Size Starting price / estimated price
Irwin Hersey (1920-2010), New York, USA
Frederic ("Frits") Wallace (1914-2014), Sarasota, USA (1980s)
Private collection, Calm Ocean, USA (2014)
H: 11.4 inch 3000 EUR
plus 27 % commission, VAT, transport and insurance

wood, blackened, inventory no. "270"

According to Poynor the "agbodogin" mask has been adopted by the Owo Yoruba and is firmly rooted in the "egungun" traditions of that group.

Poynor published two "agbodogin" masks of the Owo Yoruba. One has the face blackened, as in the present specimen, while the other is whitened and edged in black. The latter can be seen in a field photograph taken by Poynor in 1973 showing a mask dancer in full regalia (Poynor, 1995, p. 72).

The origin of this mask type remains a mystery to researchers today.
There is agreement that the shape of the mask is atypical of the Yoruba mask tradition. Drewal (1989) sees in this respect an origin from Ishan and also Poynor reports of a similar mask, which was found in Ishan north of Benin. But local traditions maintain that the mask is an import there also, which means that its origin remains a mystery.

Poynor, Robin, African Art at the Harn Museum, Florida 1995, p. 73, Fig. 17