1938.15.1

Mask representing a woman with braided hair. [ZM 23/10/2013]

Place details: W AFRICA. Nigeria / Southern Nigeria Niger Delta Rivers State Ahoada . Cultural Group: Ekpeye-Igbo (southern Igbo) Local Name: Unknown. Materials: Wood Plant / Pigment / ?. Processes: Painted / Carved / Perforated / ?. Dimensions: Max L = 285 mm Max W = 177 mm Max Depth = 165 mm Field Collector: Gwilym Iwan Jones When Collected: 1937 Other Owners: Gwilym Iwan Jones PRM Source: Gwilym Iwan Jones Acquired: Donated 1938 Related Collections: MAA Cambridge G.I. Jones negatives (N.61411.GIJ & N.61433.GIJ) appear to be of this or a very similar masks [ZM 10/09/2013]

KEYWORD: Mask / CLASS: Mask / Children / ?.

Object description: Wooden mask of a face with carved slits for the eyes. Painted white, brown and black. Three holes in the back of the mask at the top. A circular indent in one side of the mouth and a small hole in each ear. Said to be head mask worn on top of the head rather than over the face (see publication information) [ZM 16/05/2013]

Publications history, trails & websites: Published as a Museum postcard (no. 114). Caption reads: 'Painted wooden headmask used by uninitiated young boys for playing at masquerade. The mask is worn on top of the head rather than in front of the face. Africa, Nigeria - Rivers State - Ekpeya Igbo (Ibo) People (1938.15.1).' Copy in RDF. [JC 9 5 2000, 3 12 2008]

A black and white photograph of this mask taken by G.I. Jones features on the website for the G.I. Jones Photographic Archive Of Southeastern Nigerian Art and Culture, see the Ekpeya Igbo section of the Index to the Riverine Igbo region (http://mccoy.lib.siu.edu/jmccall/jones/riverine.html). The caption underneath the photo reads: 'Owu mask Ahoada Division, Ekpeya Igbo [ZM 18/07/2013]

Research notes: In the G.I. Jones photographic archive at Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology (MAA), Cambridge, are two black and white negatives (identification numbers N.61411.GIJ and N.61433.GIJ) of this mask or a very similar one, which is described on the MAA photographic database as follows: 'A documentation photograph of an Owu mask named Ezigbo. It consists of a wooden face mask of a white faced woman with an oval shaped face, slit eyes, long nose, mouth with teeth, dark eyebrows, ears with holes, and an elaborate dark braided hairstyle in the "style" of an Ikwerri woman. The braids are incised with markings and two pieces of hair curl onto the cheeks of the mask, two round white curls on the forehead and four pointed braids with white tops in the centre.' [ZM 21/10/2013]

John Picton examined this mask during a consultation visit to look at Igbo masks on 12 November 2013 and noted the following: The hole in the mouth of the mask would have originally held a pipe, for a very similar mask of Ezigbo, including pipe, see figure 19 on page 52 of John Picton, 1988, 'Ekpeye Masks and Masking' in African Arts, Volume 21, No. 2 pp. 46-53 and 94. When boys use masks for plays they wear them infront of the face or on top of the head, as the identity of the performer does not need to be hidden as small boys' plays require no ritual commitment and are performed for entertainment. [ZM 20/11/2013]