Lot: 60

98th Auction

Anthropomorphic face mask

Nigeria, Urhobo

Provenance Size Starting price / estimated price
Wolfgang Klein, Vienna, Austria
Zemanek-Münster, Würzburg, 9 March 2013, Lot 359
Werner Zintl, Worms, Germany
H: 23.6 inch This object is not available anymore.

wood, polychrome paint, remains of fabric, mirror glass, metal,
Urhobo masks are associated with water and earth spirits who are responsible for the well-being of the community. Large mask festivals are held in their honour at intervals of several years.

This mask is associated with "ohworhu", a powerful water spirit ("edjorame"). There are different interpretations of its meaning:

The mask is referred to as one of the "children of the spirit" - "emedjo", who appear at times of the highest water level of the Niger to bring the "blessing of deep water" to the villages.

She is also supposed to represent a young girl of marriageable age, a bride "opha" who is under the special protection of "ohworhu". The hairstyle with horn-like extensions is meant to reflect the elaborate hairstyle that brides wear when they are presented to the village community.

Hahner-Herzog, Iris, Das Zweite Gesicht, Genf, München, New York 1997, ill. 46 Foss, Perkins (ed.), Where Gods and Mortals meet, New York 2004, p.120, ill. 68