Lot: 291

88th Tribal Art Auction

Elephant spirit mask "ogbodo enyi"

Nigeria, Igbo/Izzi

Provenance Size Starting price / estimated price
Fred Jahn, Munich, Germany
Christian Franke, Murrhardt, Germany
H: 26 inch This object is not available anymore.

wood, black and brown patina, remains of red and white pigment, metal ring, human features combined with the tusks and trunk of an elephant (the latter oddly emerging from the forehead), human head at rear end, slightly dam., insect caused missing parts (calotte/underside), crack (human head), abrasion of paint, metal base.
For a work by the same artist see AHDRC 0094677.
The mask was worn horizontally on the head. An abundant grass fibre cuff at the lower rim concealed the head of the dancer, who was dressed in a plant fibre costume in knee-length.
Every village has a whole hierarchy of these spirits, divided into age-grades, from young boys to older ones. Each of the five or six age-grades is expected to manufacture its own mask. Present mask is carved with an anthropomorphic head which is called "ntekpe". These types of "ogbodo enyi" are usually only reserved for senior age grades, which is an indication of the group with the highest spiritual authority.
In former times this mask type, which always showed an aggressive and violent behavior, controlled the social order, and this general demeanor has been retained, even though the performances now take place in a peaceful context.

Hélène Kamer (ed.), Masques "Elephant" Igbo, Nigeria, Paris 1980 Lebas, Alain (ed.), Arts of Nigeria in French Private Collections, Milan 2012, p. 274