This Igbo mask is known as a maiden spirit mask. Masks like this are danced during funerals and agricultural festivals. This particular mask measures 21.5 inches tall and weighs 4.5 pounds. There is some damage to the right ear and some of the exterior has been scraped on the forehead – please see photos. Stand is not included.
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Damage to the right ear and some scrapes and scuffs – please see photos
Igbo Maiden Spirt Mask
About the Igbo People
The Igbo have an oral history that tells of their origins having come from a ‘sky being’ whom they call Eri. Eri was sent by Chikwu (God) down to Earth. When Eri first landed, he sat on an ant-hill looking at a marshy landscape. He began to complain about the conditions, so Chikwu sent a blacksmith who used bellows and charcoal to dry the land. Eri and his people lived plentiful until his death, in which all food ceased. One of Eri’s sons, Nri, objected to the lack of food, in which Chikwu’s reply was for him to sacrifice his first son and daughter and bury them in separate graves. 12 days after Nri complied, yams grew from his son’s grave and coco yam from his daughter’s. Later, Nri decided to kill a male and female slave, burying them the same way he did his children. Again, after 12 days, oil palm grew from the male slave’s grave while a fruit tree grew from that of the female slave. Since the creation of this Igbo oral tradition, all kings trace their origin back to the founding ancestor Eri and each king is a ritual reproduction of him.
Read more about the Igbo here.
About the Maiden Spirt Mask
Maiden spirit masks are meant to portray Igbo ideals of feminine beauty. The mask would be danced by a male, dressed in a colorful elaborate bodysuit, during annual Fame of Maidens festivals. The mask also makes appearances at funerals and other cultural events to honor and celebrate ancestors and members of the community. Maiden spirit masks come in a variety of shapes and sizes, some becoming towering structures with elaborate hairstyles and facial scarification. Many are topped with animal and humanoid figures. Most masks will include a white painted face to symbolize purity and beauty.