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Enquiry from Online Galleries regarding "West African North Eastern Nigeria Igbo Maiden Spirit Mask ‘Mmuo’"
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Look at what I found on the Online Galleries website!
Old dry smooth patina areas of natural polish
A label to the reverse for Berkeley Galleries and inventory no. 4814A
Early 20th Century
Size: 29.5cm high, 12cm wide, 7cm deep – 11½ ins high, 4¾ ins wide, 2¾ ins deep
Ex Private collection Ernest Ohly
Thence by descent
Maiden spirit masks are always decorated with white pigment as light complexions were preferred. Whiteness and chalk were associated with the spirit world, honesty and clear sightedness. Maidens are the pride of their fathers and a source of bride wealth upon their marriage. The masks embody the ideals of youthful feminine beauty which has both physical and moral dimensions for the Igbo. Dancing with grace and dignity to reflect her fine upbringing, her smooth skin and facial tattoos will draw attention to small well placed features. Her moral qualities include purity, obedience, good character and generosity, making her a worthy representative of her family. This annual masquerade is performed to re-emphasise and exaggerate all of these ideals.