Face Mask (Iru mmuo)

Face Mask (Iru mmuo)

possibly early 1900s

Wood, pigment, plant fiber, and cotton

Overall: 16.9 x 11 x 6 cm (6 5/8 x 4 5/16 x 2 3/8 in.)

Weight: 60 g (2.12 oz.)

Gift of Kim Sherwin 2016.10

Location

Did you know?

Though always worn by a man, the imagery of this mask celebrates youthful female beauty.

Description

This small face mask would have been complemented by a separate, elaborate superstructure covered with cotton cloth. Though always worn by a man, the image glorifies youthful female beauty. Derived from chalky clay, the white coloration of the face refers to ancestral spirits whose powers the mask evokes. The masks dance in festivals that generally celebrate the dead but also appear at funerals to escort the deceased to the land of the ancestors.

See also
Collection: 
African Art
Department: 
African Art
Type of artwork: 
Mask
Credit line: 
Gift of Kim Sherwin

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