Face Mask (Agbogho Mmuo)

A work made of wood and pigment.

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  • A work made of wood and pigment.

Date:

Late 19th/early 20th century

Artist:

Igbo
Nigeria
Coastal West Africa

About this artwork

The long, thin nose, small mouth, exaggerated hairstyle, and painted or raised patterns of an Igbo maiden spirit mask portray an ideal of youthful feminine beauty, a concept that is both physical and moral. Worn by men in colorful, elaborately appliquéd bodysuits, maiden spirit masks appear in groups at annual Fame of Maidens festivals, funerals of respected elders, and, more recently, cultural events that celebrate modern Igbo identity. Their presence entertains the community, honors the deceased, and reiterates traditional values. Typically, maiden spirit masks are painted white before a performance, as that color is associated with spiritual purity.

On View

Arts of Africa, Gallery 137

Artist

Igbo

Title

Face Mask (Agbogho Mmuo)

Origin

Nigeria

Date

1850–1925

Medium

Wood and pigment

Credit Line

Cora Abrahamson, Gladys N. Anderson, Harriett A. Fox, and Simeon B. Williams endowments

Reference Number

1994.315

Extended information about this artwork

Object information is a work in progress and may be updated as new research findings emerge. To help improve this record, please email .

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