Boldly Cubist: An Early Elephant Mask

From the Igbo Izzi of Nigeria, hardwood; kaolin and pigment stain (layers from reapplications from multiple uses), encrustation from shrine applications and applied offerings. Dimensions: 20.5″ (h) x 12″ (w) / 52.07 cm (h) x 30.48 cm (w),  age: turn of 20th century. This beautifully expressive elephant spirit mask was danced as a symbol of strength and clarity for the Igbo community. It has been centuries since elephants roamed Nigeria, and this type of abstracted image of an elephant is the result of historical verbal description rather than artistic license.

From a recent ad of Berz Gallery of African Art. The influence of African traditional art on 19th Century European painters and sculptors is huge. They must have thought the Africans came from another, more advanced civilization… or maybe a nearby planet. 🙂

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