Maiden Spirit mask from the Igbo

Southern Nigeria
Southern Nigeria

Q:  I collect masks from countries I visit and have a small collection of 9 at the moment (and hopefully growing).
However, my Nan volunteers at a British Heart Foundation shop and had a wooden mask bought in and has got it for me. I usually like to know where the masks are from. Would there be any way for me to find out where this one is from?  Sophie, 789

A:  That’s what we’re here for. Learning about the mask increases the pleasure of collecting. So yours is a Maiden Spirit mask from the Igbo people of Nigeria in West Africa. They are painted white, the color of the spirit and are danced by men at agricultural festivals and funerals of prominent members of the village. Topped often by coiffures that can be much more elaborate than this one, these masks are said to represent the beauty and purity of deceased maidens. I think this is a good example of the genre, even if it might have been made for sale to tourists or the export market instead of actually used.  B

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