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Lot 332, Auction 5/30/2017: Early 20th C. African E. Nigerian Wood Helmet Mask

West Africa, Eastern Nigeria, ca. early 20th century CE. A rather unusual carved wood helmet mask of an abstract, hybrid zoomorphic (perhaps simian)/anthropomorphic form, its dramatic visage comprised of beady, widely spaced, ovoid eyes, an exceedingly voluminous nose with enormous nostril holes, a single white stripe painted from the forehead to the tip of the nose making a great contrast with the black ground, a broad incised smile highlighted with red pigment, and huge cup-shaped red ears, both with central projections, one with raised geometric ornaments. The rounded head shows multiple perforations for 'hair' or other adornments. Though difficult to assign to a specific tribe, an expert we consulted suggested that the piece may be from a borderland region of Eastern Nigeria - perhaps Ibibio, Igala, etc. or a hybrid variant. Size: 13.5" W x 11.75" H (34.3 cm x 29.8 cm)

Condition: One side repaired. Age cracks and losses to top and back of head as shown. Missing 'hair' or ornaments once set in perforations on the head. Nice pigment remains and patina.

Provenance: Adeon Gallery, Chicago, Illinois, USA, acquired prior to 1970.

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