Lot: 302

85th Tribal Art Auction

Zoomorphic water spirit mask

Nigeria, Yoruba/Ijebu

Provenance Size Starting price / estimated price
L: 46.9 inch 1500 EUR
plus 21 % commission, VAT, transport and insurance

wood, encrusted blackish brown patina, elongated crocodile snout, surmounted by a coiled python who is regarded as the progenitor of the other water spirits, at the back two "woro" leaves, which appear near the waterside just before the time of the festival, a propitious sign of blessing from the spirits, flanked by two swords used at the outset of the festival to sacrifice a tortoise in preparation for the arrival of the maskers, remains of a bonnet at the back, min. dam., small missing parts, slight traces of abrasion, base; the Ijebu Yoruba live near the coast, and their land is filled with numerous lagoons and rivers. It was the proximity and importance of water that led to the introduction of a cult known as "ekine", which is devoted to water spirits. There are three main water spirits, "igodo", the bird - "agira", the antelope - and "oni", the crocodile.

Drewal, Henry John & John Pemberton, Yoruba, New York 1989, p. 133 & 144 f.