Lot: 232

96th Auction

Big headdress "sukuru" ("old woman")

Nigeria, Mumuye

Provenance Size Starting price / estimated price
Michel Gosse, Caen / Paris, France H: 42.1 inch 2500 EUR
plus 23 % commission, VAT, transport and insurance

wood, red paint, white pigment, metal tacks, crack (neck), base This mask was first known as a shoulder mask. Marla Berns coined the term "vertical masks" in 2011, citing that these masks were worn on the head. The dancer could see through a cut-out in the plank-like extension to the front. Larger specimens are said to have been worn by several men, concealed under a luxuriant hanging of raffia or cloth. Formerly these masks would be taken out in times of war, but nowadays they are only seen at a biannual ceremony, the "ushavuko". They are also sometimes used in certain rainmaking rites and in healing ceremonies.


Berns, Marla C. et. al., Arts of the Benue River Valley, Los Angeles 2011, p. 437 ff. Lebas, Alain (ed.), Arts of Nigeria in French Private Collections, Milan 2012, p. 284, ill. 162