Face Mask

Afikpo peoples

Federal Republic of Nigeria

Face Mask, n.d.

  • On View

Wood and pigment

Dimensions: 20 1/2 in. (52.1 cm)

Gift of F. Karel Wiest, by exchange, 2007.121

Little is known about this Afikpo mask type, however this mask was likely used in the Okumkpa masquerade performed after the dry season festival. The young men of the Afikpo community’s secret society dance over a hundred masks in Okumkpa, a theatrical production with various skits that serve as critical commentary on the lives of the people living in the community. Weaing a mask transforms the dancer into a spirit, which explains the highly abstract design. Afikpo mask carvers are called ndi n’atu isi mmua, meaning, “people who carve head spirit.” A master carver is expected to possess the imagination to create something beyond the visible world.

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