Africa

Ogoni mask with hinged jaw

Q: Hello, I bought this African mask at a thrift shop about 10 years ago. Paid around US$250.00 at the time. It has 12in x 7in x 6in (deep). Thanks! Alberto, 1581

A: The Ogoni are perhaps the oldest settlers of the Eastern Niger Delta, living south of the Igbo in heavily populated Nigeria. Because they encountered the British at a relatively late date and received comparatively less Westernized education than their neighbors, the Ogoni have maintained more of their precolonial culture than other tribes.

Though masks vary regionally, they are of men or women with articulated jaws and narrow teeth usually made of cane. Historically, masks were worn in ritual performances for funerals and when yams were planted and harvested. More recently they appear at Christmas and New Year celebrations and to welcome important visitors.

These unique mask with their special jaws have become very popular with collectors. Because they sell so well they are well made and very carefully antiqued. B+

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