Dance crest, Igbo; Nigeria
Wood, pigments, iron; L. 22 1/2"
Masks such as this are made and utilized
by an age/grade society among the northern Igbo
and are known as Ogbodo Enyi. Though often
referred to as "elephant spirit masks,"
or Wawa masks, by Muslim traders, the iconography
appears to be more complex, combining attributes
of numerous animals. Additionally, some believe
that senior masks in rank bear large heads on the
back or, in the case of this example, entire carved
The interplay of dynamic forms in
this mask, with both horizontal and vertical implied
motion, creates a sense of movement that balances
perfectly with the small figure carved on the back
of the mask, whose compressed form accentuates the
dynamic tension of the entire image.