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Lot 100C: Nigerian Ibibio Wood Maskette with Articulated Mouth
27 October 2016
Louisville, CO, USALive Auction
Nigeria, Ibibio people, early 20th century CE. This is a wooden maskette with an articulated jaw and a naturalistic face; the combed down hair style is characteristic of the Ibibio culture. The face has surprising depth and swirling marks on the jawline; these might represent scarification? Other Ibibio masks, such as one held by the Australian Museum, display similar marks painted on the face. The Ibibio live in southeastern Nigeria on the Niger River Delta. Wealth in this society came largely from the sale of palm oil and the social dominance of certain individuals was reinforced through ritual dances that incorporated masks like this one, with articulated jaws. Some of these masks, however, also had spiritual significance -- like this one, which, by being painted dark (idiok), represented the souls of evil people condemned to suffer as ghosts. Those wearing idiok masks would perform at night to be additionally frightening! Size: 5" L x 5" W x 6.4" H (12.7 cm x 12.7 cm x 16.3 cm)
Provenance: Ex- Adeon Gallery, Nick Poolos, Chicago, IL acquired before 1970.
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Condition Report: Expected wear; mouth articulation is functional.