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Igbo mask Nigeria Wood, kaolin, pigments, fibres H.: 44 cm. Mask with idealized feminine features with an emaciated face covered with white kaolin topped with a black bulbous cap encircling the face up to the chin. The headdress is embellished with a hybrid zoomorphic element, a scaled bird at the centre of the skull whose tail is projected backwards in a large arc. The face is expressive: curved nose, open mouth showing teeth. Black raised scarification marks decorate the centre of the forehead and the temples. According to Cole and Aniakor (1984, pp. 120-129), this type of mask was worn by male dancers during a ceremony called Udo agbogho or "the fame of the virgin maidens" that took place every year in the northern part of Igbo country. The mask represents the young woman in her prime beauty. Non-tribal art object (sculpture expressing itself beyond the classical canons of the socio-cultural group). Consultant : Jean-Pierre LACOSTE

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