About This Artwork

Region of Nteje, Nigeria

Time of the Brave Mask (Mgbedike), Early/mid–20th century

Wood and pigment
H. 83.8 cm (33 in.)

Restricted gift of Cynthia and Terry E. Perucca, 2008.175

For the Igbo, masquerade is an important means of communing with influential spirits, enforcing order, and expressing social values. This remarkable Time of the Brave mask has menacing teeth and horns and a towering headdress of interlocking snakes, monkeys, antelopes, and humans. Worn with a costume hung with quills, grasses, and seedpod rattles, the mask embodies a wilderness spirit that is aggressive, brash, powerful, and stubborn. Rival masquerade troupes stage competitive performances of their Time of the Brave masks that test the endurance and supernatural strength of each mask and its supporters.

Exhibition, Publication and Ownership Histories

Ownership History

Adamou Mama, Lome, Togo, by 1979; sold to Michael Oliver, Michael Oliver African Art, New York, N.Y., 1979; sold to the Art Institute, 2008.

Interpretive Resources

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