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HOME : African & Tribal Art : Ibibio : Ibibio Wooden Polychrome Mask
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Ibibio Wooden Polychrome Mask - PF.4832
Origin: Southeastern Nigeria
Circa: 20 th Century AD
Dimensions: 26" (66.0cm) high x 23.75" (60.3cm) wide
Collection: African
Style: Ibibio
Medium: Wood and Paint

Location: United States
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Where does the word reality end and “surreality” begin? The thin barrier between the physical and non-physical world is the territory of the priest and the artist, particularly when involving ancestral and other spirits in very old ritual ceremonies. The blending of the old and new is also a talented artist’s province, demonstrated here in this spectacular mask. Though too heavy to be worn, it was probably mounted on a structure and paraded through the village as part of a great masquerade. The use of paint on large-scale works is a distinctive feature of the Ibibio, and we are especially struck by the vibrant green on the face. Its eyes are on metal rods that can be manipulated by a string at the back. Bushy black eyebrows and tufts of hair in the nose give the face an inimitable character. By including only the top row of teeth, the artist has still managed to give the impression the mask is conversing with us. A yellow zigzag along the forehead adds dimension, as does the emblem in the center of the forehead. Looking at this mask, we feel in the presence of someone who is benevolent, fun loving and also mysterious. - (PF.4832)


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