Water Spirit Mask

Ijo, Nigeria, Early 20th Century
PROVENANCE: Drs. Jean and Noble Endicott, New York PUBLISHED: "Wild Spirits Strong Medicine", The Center for African Art, NY, 1989, pg. 112, fig. 64.

Water is an essential element to Ijo spiritual life. Water spirits control these environments and masquerades held in their honor imitate the dances of the water spirits themselves. Spirit masks are created and worn by men during these ceremonies. These masks blend features of aquatic animals and humans. The mask is worn on top of the head in order to face the sky; meaning the principle features of the mask are only visible to other spectators when the wearer bends forward. This particular example represents a crocodile. The crocodile's face is heavily stylized in a geometric pattern. The snout is long and rectangular while the humanistic eyes and nose are placed on top of the mask. This mask would have been used to invoke water spirits for assistance and guidance.

Length: 19.5 " in.
IN 2-3-14 / SOLD