Lot: 289

89th Tribal Art Auction

Water spirit mask

Nigeria, Ijaw

Provenance Size Starting price / estimated price
George Oltay, Johannesburg, South Africa
Egon Günther, Johannesburg, South Africa
Sotheby's, New York, 18 November 2000, lot 87
Zemanek-Münster, Würzburg, 28 May 2011, lot 233
H: 15 inch 5000 EUR
plus 23 % commission, VAT, transport and insurance

wood, pigment, inscribed "EG", base

The Ijaw believed that they shared the rivers dominating their environment with beings they called the "Water People" and they paid tribute to these quasi-human spirits in their masquerades. A myth from the Kalabari (eastern Ijaw city-state) tells how a woman abducted by water spirits returned to teach her townspeople the plays she had seen beneath the water.

Werth, Albert Johannes, Art of Africa, African Art from South African Collections/Kuns van Afrika, Afrika-Kuns uit Suid-Afrikaanse Versamelings, 1970, p. 171 Exhibited:

African Art, South African Collections, The Fifteenth Transvaal Academy, Johannesburg 1969 & Pretoria Art Museum, Pretoria 1970