Ijo mask

Ijo people – Nigeria – 19th Century – wood, pigments
86 cm


Davis Gallery, New Orleans

Collection of Mark Isaacson and Greg Nacozy, Boston


Water spirits (owuamapu) play an important role in the religious ideas of the Ijo. Annually, celebrations are held in honor of the water spirits that last several days, either at the beginning of the year or at the time of the rains, in order to gain their goodwill and ensure the well-being of the group.

Ijo masks not only represent specific water creatures, but also anthropomorphic figures or hybrid creatures with features of different animals, and sometimes human features. The compositional possibilities are endless and this has resulted in a variety of highly original masks.

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