An Igbo Masquerade by Amanda Davis
Bright colors and mirrors are just one part of this amazing piece. Different colorful cloths--orange, red, pink, green, plaid, white and black--hang down from the masks face. The black face looks skywards. It has major scarification around the eyes, and the mouth is slightly open, revealing white teeth and red inner mouth. The eyes are opened wide and are bright white with the deep black pupils. The nose is broad. This mask contains a story about the Igbo who are one of the three largest groups in Nigeria. They are a socially and culturally diverse population who live in the southeastern part of the country.
This mask originated in the southern part of Nigeria in Igboland in the area of Igbo- Ukwu. It was made in the 19th century. The mask was made in a collective effort and usually kept by the oldest person in the village. It was used when a dignitary passed away as part of the funeral celebration. It was passed down from generation to generation. One of special functions of this mask was linked to the small mirrors sewed into each piece of cloth. The mirrors in the mask were thought to have the power to deflect evil spirits. They also represent the powerful spiritual, righteous path that the dead will follow to the spirit world. Although chiefly used in funerals, this mask also enforced law and order within the community.