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19th C. African Igbo Initiation Mask, Calabash & Leaves

Africa, Nigeria, Igbo, Afikpo, ca. mid 19th to early 20th century CE. An unusual initiation mask of the Afikpo, quite rare because the vast majority of Afikpo masks were destroyed during colonial conflicts at the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th centuries. This mask is most exceptional for its painstaking execution and dynamic aesthetic. The "face" is comprised of a section of a calabash gourd that is incised with two rows of horizontal linear slits and one long vertical slit between them. This surface was covered with red, orange, and white organic pigments. Above is a tall section comprised of numerous rows of cording adorned with calabash pieces and organic red, black, and orange hues. The surrounding perimeter of the mask is comprised of a band of plaited vegetal fibers. Midway up the periphery are twin near spherical fiber bundles attached to loop handles. Dried leaves are still attached to the back and a straight wood frame element emerges from the top. Rare to find! Size: 11.5" W x 25" H (29.2 cm x 63.5 cm)

Condition: Wear to leaves on backside and some missing cordage. Overall good.

Provenance: Ex-Nick Poolos, Adeon Gallery, Chicago, IL

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