West Africa, Nigeria, Ibibio peoples, ca. early 20th century CE. An intriguing, hand-carved wooden face mask depicting an attractive female face with exaggerated features and a prominent black coiffure. She presents with openwork ovoid eyes beneath faint brows, a slender nose, full lips surrounding a pair of tab-shaped teeth, smooth cheeks, and pierced ears. Atop her tapering hairstyle is a secondary abstract head of a strikingly-alien form with puffy eyes, a triangular nose, and wide lips painted with white frets, perhaps symbolizing scarification marks or even ritual stitching. The Ibibio reside in small village groups and maintain social peace and order through the use of mask and figures that symbolize good and evil spirits. They have traditionally created two types of masks: those that represent evil spirits or individuals who have committed wrongdoings, known as Idiok Ekpo, and those that represent virtuous beings called Mfon Ekpo. An interesting dichotomous example! Size: 6.75" W x 12.2" H (17.1 cm x 31 cm); 16.5" H (41.9 cm) on included custom stand.
Provenance: private New York, New York, USA collection
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Minor abrasions and chips to peripheries, some raised details, and verso, with fading to original pigmentation, and a few stable fissures. Light earthen deposits and nice patina throughout.