Lot: 192

102nd Auction

Rare "kwagh hir" festival mask

Nigeria, Tiv

Provenance Size Starting price / estimated price
Allan Stone, New York, USA H: 31.5 inch 4000 EUR
plus 27 % commission, VAT, transport and insurance

wood, paint, metal, black mass, seed capsules, plant fibre, bone, magic pendant (wooden object wrapped in cotton fibres and newspaper), base

"Kwagh-hir" (literally means "something magical") is a multipart culturally edifying art form of the Tiv people of central Nigeria which became popular in the 1960s. It is a dramatic public performance telling moral stories of past and current events, and incorporates puppetry, masquerading, music, dance and animated narratives to portray its moral themes. It is used by the Tiv people to reinforce traditional beliefs and convey other worldly tales to educate, socialize, provide secular entertainment and address societal issues.

"Kwagh-hir" is a higher art form of "kwagh-alom", an aged practice of the Tiv people where the family was treated to a storytelling session by creative storytellers, usually in the early hours of the night after the day's farming work by moonlight

A monograph published by Jonathan Fogel and Ethan Rider in 2017 shows a selection from the rich repertoire of extraordinary masks, puppets and other props used at the "kwagh-hir" festival.

Rider, Ethan & Jonathan Fogel, "Something magical - The Kwagh-Hir of the Tiv", Objects from the Jerome Bunch Collection, BFP 2017