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Face mask
Date: 17th-19th century
Medium: Copper alloy
Dimensions: H x W x D: 21.9 x 10.4 x 7.5 cm (8 5/8 x 4 1/8 x 2 15/16 in.)
Credit Line: Museum purchase
Geography: Nigeria
Object Number: 86-12-5
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Object is not currently on exhibit

Of unknown origin and use, this object, cast by the lost-wax method, is attributed to the "Lower Niger Bronze Industry" style. In previous exhibitions and publications it has been identified with the Ijo peoples, based on its resemblance to their water spirit masks. Archeological discoveries may one day provide more conclusive information about its origin. This anthropomorphic metal mask may have been associated with political office. The three-dimensional ornament on the forehead suggests a rank insignia, possibly a snake or bird.

Human face mask with coffer-like motifs over the entire top of the head in low relief with a bent, bird-like form at the center front, originally in 3-D. An interlace motif decorates from the nose to the chin, and there is no mouth.

De Jeu collection, 1974

Emile M. Deletaille, Brussels, 1975 to 1986

The Art of Metal in Africa. New York: The African American Institute October 7, 1982 - January 5, 1983

Rice Univeristy, Sewall Gallery, Houston, February 3 - April 10, 1983

Charles W. Bowers Museum, Santa Ana June 18 - April 10, 1983

Ways of the River: Arts and Environment of the Niger Delta, Fowler Museum of Cultural History at University of California, Los Angeles, April 18-November 17, 2002

Anderson, Martha G. and Philip M. Peek (eds). 2002. Ways of the Rivers: Arts and Environment of the Niger Delta. Los Angeles: Fowler Museum of Cultural History, University of California, p. 38, no. 1.1.

Brincard, Marie-Therese (ed). 1982. The Art of Metal in Africa. New York: The African-American Institute, p. 34, no. H37 [note material incorrectly given as tin].

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