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Nigeria

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67. Igbo mask, Nigeria, wood, metal and pigments, 11 1/4" (28.5 cm)
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67. Igbo mask, Nigeria, wood, metal and pigments, 11 1/4" (28.5 cm)
  This form of Igbo mask is called Agbogho Mmuo, the beautiful maiden spirit. It is danced at a yearly festival called Ude Agbogho, the festival of maidens. This masquerade (performed by males) is performed to embody the ideals of feminine beauty, both physical and moral. There is a seemingly endless inventiveness in the variations on this mask, while remaining true to its inherent “spiritual” limits of form and color. In much African art, basic forms vary little as they are considered pleasing to the spirit world and magically effective. (For a carver to make something offensive to a spirit would almost certainly rain down disaster on the heads of all parties involved). Despite the seeming limits imposed by a certain type of mask or object, the carvers throughout Africa display incredible creativity and inventiveness as they work. I find certain questions raised within this context to be disturbing: the almost obsessive need for the new in western art leads so often to schools of work which hardly last a generation, while certain forms in Africa (and other similar cultures) have lasted and had a human impact for thousands of years.

Collection of Tookalook Tribal Arts

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