Masks of the World

Menu

African mask with moving mouth

Ogoni people, Nigeria

Ogoni people, Nigeria

Q:  I bought this mask on a car boot sale simply because I liked it and found it very interesting. I have tried to find out a bit about it with not much luck. Could this be an African maiden mask?  I would appreciate any information you can give me. Jude, 796

A:  This is an Elu mask with hinged jaw from the Ogoni people of southern Nigeria, Africa’s most populated country. Elu masks are danced by young members of secret men’s societies that have social, religious, or governmental functions. These masks are attached to cone-shaped caps of fiber and cloth that cover the heads of the dancers. They are usually danced at annual festivals or at the funerals of society members. I think this is a simple and very traditional example of an Elu mask. Nice find!  B+

Categories:   Africa

Comments

  • Posted: July 22, 2015 15:05

    Ed

    This mask RESEMBLES an "Elu" maskqureDes of the Ogoni, Idoma, Igala and other groups along the Nigerian Delta River regions. There are various reasons and intent for such masks; from caricatures and satire of Europeans, to funeral and annual festive use... Each determined by association, including the numerous men's associations. I stated "resemble" because it does not align with Eli masking upon closer detailed observation and discernment. I think it is more of a "hybridity" of Gabon / Nigerian cross-cultural market work intended to convey an Elu or Punu articulated mask to fool the unsuspecting. Africans are imaginative and know precisely what the market's like and find attractive. Sorry if this is harsh. I think it is best not to continue in error of deception. "D" rating.
  • Posted: July 22, 2015 15:15

    ed

    CORRECTION. I should not use my I-Phone when typing with the "autocorrect" feature. This mask RESEMBLES an “Elu” masquerade of the Ogoni, Idoma, Igala and other groups along the Nigerian Delta River regions. There are various reasons and intent for such masks; from caricatures and satire of Europeans, to funeral and annual festive use, and individual group determination, not that of (numerous), but individual men’s associations. It is more complex than generally understood. I stated “resembles” because it does not align with a genuine "Elu" mask upon closer detailed observation and discernment. I would place it under the “hybridity” category, perhaps of Gabon / Nigerian cross-culture, but truly a market work intended to convey an "articulated jaw" mask designed to fool the unsuspecting. Africans are quite imaginative and know precisely what the market’s like and find attractive, and will provide just that. Sorry if this is harsh. I think it is best not to continue in error of deception. “D” rating.