Dear Kevin: You will note some redundancies in my response to some of the references that Doug provided. (Thanks, Doug, for your detailed response.) But, asMessage 1 of 6 , Sep 13, 2006View SourceDear Kevin:You will note some redundancies in my response to some of the references that Doug provided. (Thanks, Doug, for your detailed response.) But, as timing would have it, here are some of my thoughts related to -- if not directly related -- to the mask about which you inquired.The simple oval mask does not strike me particularly as Ijo but may indeed come from the broader region of southeastern Nigeria. The link below to the G.I. Jones Photographic Archives will allow you some great field photographs to peruse and through which to compare your masks with other masks from the region. The second mask with the more complex form portraying presumably hair and horns seems more likely to come from the more southern, coastal Delta region where the Ijaw, or Ijo, population is centered.Ijaw, or Ijo, refers to a group which predominates in the Delta region of southeastern Nigeria, particularly in the Rivers State. For more information on the region, visit http://www.riversstatenigeria.net/ . As is true of so many cultural complexes throughout Nigeria, there is a long history of complex inter-relationships among sub-groups and neighboring peoples. The map below -- which comes from the zyama web-site -- designates the "Ijo" at the very most southern coastal region.Source of map: http://www.zyama.com/a.help.pages/Nigeria%20Cameroon.jpgAs the map suggests, the location of the Ijaw, or Ijo, at this very southern and coastal point both nestles them among a diverse array of inland groups as well as having set the stage for early contact between the Ijaw and European maritime excursions. The presence of vast oil reserves in the Delta region has also profoundly affected the current economic and environmental reality for the Ijaw and other groups throughout the region.Some articles which provide insight into both broad and current history of the Ijaw and the Niger Delta region include:
Images from the GI Jones Photographic Archives which related directly to the Ijo and surrounding peoples can be viewed at:http://mccoy.lib.siu.edu/jmccall/jones/ibibio.html The main link to the archive is http://mccoy.lib.siu.edu/jmccall/jones/Some excellent books on the arts and culture of the region are:
- "Ijaw History" from the web-site of the Ijaw National Alliance of the Americas: http://www.ijaw-naa.org/ijaw/home.htm
- IZON: The Historical perspective: http://www.unitedijawstates.com/articles_alagoa.htm
- "The Ijaw and the Niger Delta in Nigerian History" by E.J. Alagoa: http://www.ijaw-naa.org/boroday/keynote.htm
- A 2004 article on armed militancy in the region from "dismalworld.com": http://www.dismalworld.com/violence/armed_ijaw_militants_in_nigeria.php
- "Celebrating Womanhood in Bonny Island" by Basil Okafor, Daily Sun, Saturday, May 13, 2006 -- an interesting article that provides both a glimpse of current reality and a historical background of a sub-group of the Ijaw: http://www.sunnewsonline.com/webpages/features/Legends/2006/may/13/legends-13-05-2006-001.htm
Jones, G. I. The Art of Eastern Nigeria. London: Cambridge University Press. 1984.Philip M. Peek and Martha G. Anderson, ed. Ways of the Rivers: Arts and Environment of the Niger Delta. Los Angeles: UCLA Fowler Museum of Cultural History. 2002.Other published books and articles by Martha G. Anderson pertaining to the Ijo and Delta Regions peoples:
Ijo masquerades are particularly known for their elaborate headdresses which portray various marine life and maritime-related endeavors (i.e., boats, etc.). Among the commercial offerings in this particular realm, see this link in addition to that provided by Doug:Other classes of objects for which the Ijo -- especially the Kalabari sub-group -- are known include these highly stylized animal masks which I think bear remarkable stylistic affinities with Kru and Grebo masks from the Western Guinea coastal regions. (I would hypothesize that there was some significant interaction among disparate coastal cultures through the many centuries of trade routes along the coast...) It is interesting to compare the mask below with Sokari Douglas Camp's contemporary rendering of the Otobo Masquerade from the "Spirits in Steel" exhibition at http://www.sokari.co.uk/work.asp?a=32. Her main site link is http://www.sokari.co.uk/. Please note that the references and links to the Ken Saro-Wiwa memorial provide additional insights into both the cultural complexity of the Delta region and the challenges posed to numerous groups in the region by the development of oil production and distribution today...Africa
- 2004 "Water Ethos: The Ijo of the Niger Delta," in African Folklore: An Encyclopedia, edited by Philip M. Peek and Kwesi Yankah. New York: Routledge. 502-04.
- 2003 "Ijo Art," a revised version of the article published in the Dictionary of Art, e. by Jane Turner. London: Grove Publications. Also available on Grove Art Online, http://www.e-grove.com/art/tdao.html
- 2003 “Ikiyan aru: Ijo vessels of sacrifice.” African Arts XXXVI(1): 24-39, 91-92.
- 2002 “Ways of the Rivers:Arts and Environment of the Niger Delta” (Exhibition Preview). African Arts XXXV(1): 12-25, 93.
- 2002 Co-edited with Philip M. Peek, Ways of the Rivers: Art and
Environment of the Niger Delta. Los Angeles: Fowler Museum of Cultural
History, UCLA. I co-wrote the introduction and conclusion, and wrote eight
interleaf essays and two chapters:
"Bulletproof: The Warrior Ethos in Ijo culture"
"River Horses and Dancing Sharks: Canoes and Fish in Ijo Art and Ritual"
- 1999 "The Arts." In Land and Peoples of Bayelsa State. Edited by E. J. Alagoa. Port Harcourt, Nigeria: Onyoma Research Publications.
- 1998 "From Adumu to Mami Wata: Central Ijo Water Spirit Images." In The Multi-disciplinary Approach to African History. Edited by Nkparom C. Ejituwu. Port Harcourt, Nigeria: University of Port Harcourt Press.
- "Ijo Art." In Art and Life in Africa. Iowa City, Iowa: Art and Life in Africa project. This is an interactive educational CD-ROM.is an educational-library series designed for children aged 8 to 10.
- 1997 "Delta," in Arts du Nigeria. Paris: réunion musées nationaux,
"Ijo Art," in The Dictionary of Art. London: Grove.
- 1989 with Christine Mullen Kreamer, Wild Spirits Strong Medicine: African Art and the Wilderness. New York: co-published by the Center for African Art and the Washington University Press.
- 1987 "The Funeral of an Ijo Shrine Priest," African Arts XXI (1): 52-57,
1983 Central Ijo Art: Shrines and Spirit Images. Ph.D. dissertation, Indiana University.
- 1981 Catalog entry on an Ijo mask in For Spirits and Kings, edited by Susan Vogel. New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art, pp. 149-50.
- 1974 with Ellen Bradbury, "Ijo Duen Fobara or Ancestor Screen," Minneapolis Institute of Arts Bulletin 61: 66-73.
Ijo peoples (Kalabari subgroup), Degama area, Nigeria
Hippopotamus Mask, Otobo
Collected ca. 1916
Wood, incrustation, pigment
H. 18 1/2 in. (47 cm)
Raymond and Laura Wielgus Collection
Indiana University Art Museum, 96.49
Among the Kalabari Ijo peoples, who live in the delta area of the lower Niger River, important rituals honor and appease water spirits, who were believed responsible for ensuring the Ijo's food supply and their fertility. This mask represents one of these water spirits, otobo, “hippopotamus.” When worn, the mask was positioned on top of the head and decorated with feathers and cloth.Memorial screens (ndnen fubara) and personal shrine (efri) are also among the forms associated with the region. In each case, accounts ofthe historical development of the forms and/or the concurrent existence of related forms among neighboring peoples underline the extreme complexity and inter-relatedness of various forms throughout the delta region. Below are some images of such screens and/or their elements from the Boston Museum of Fine Arts and from an image database which seems to originate at the University of Indiana.
On view: Richard B. Carter Gallery (African Art) click to zoom send as an ecardhttp://www.mfa.org/collections/search_art.asp?recview=true&id=4798&coll_keywords=ijaw&coll_accession=&coll_name=&coll_artist=&coll_place=&coll_medium=&coll_culture=&coll_classification=&coll_credit=&coll_provenance=&coll_location=&coll_has_images=&coll_on_view=&coll_sort=0&coll_sort_order=0&coll_package=0&coll_start=1http://www.uic.edu/depts/ahaa/classes/ah111/imagebank.html (University of Indiana Art History 111 Course Image List)For illustrations, information and comparative examples of the Efri and related forms, visit the Efri_Iphri page on Rand's site as well.Lee
thanks for prompt response Doug and Lee. Been at work all day and just got home. Am back at work tomorrow so will leave it till the weekend before I followMessage 1 of 6 , Sep 14, 2006View Sourcethanks for prompt response Doug and Lee. Been at work all day and
just got home. Am back at work tomorrow so will leave it till the
weekend before I follow all your links.
from brief scan of your postings it would seem that the masks are not
obviously Ijo/Ijaw. This would indicate perhaps that the masks if
genuine are non-typical Ijo/Ijaw; or the masks if genuine are not
Ijo/Ijaw but from other cultures; or simply the masks are not genuine
at all? (bugger!)
Perhaps all will be revealed when I follow up your links on the weekend
again, many thanks
... Hi Kevin, I think your 1a.jpg looks more like an Eket mask, this is unlikely to be an old piece, but could be a used piece. The missionaries have been inMessage 1 of 6 , Sep 14, 2006View Source--- In African_Arts@yahoogroups.com, "khsharpe2" <forums@...> wrote:
>Hi Kevin, I think your 1a.jpg looks more like an Eket mask, this is
> Hi Everyone,
> I'm new to group (have been lurking for past 2 weeks or so). For
> a while now I've had an interest in Australian Aboriginal and New
> Guinea art but for the last few year have also developed the lust to
> possess some African items. Two of the pieces aquired are these masks
> (see links below) and I would like to know more about them.
> I bought them about 18 month ago off eBay and were told they were
> vintage (yes, I know "vintage" covers a multitude of sins - not
> looking good here) but they were quite cheap (seriously not looking
> good here). Ah well. I was also told both masks were Ijah, Nigeria.
> Any opinions on the following would be appreciated ......
> 1)is Ijah a people or a region?
> 2)are the masks tribal in origin and if so, did they ever
> have a tribal life or were they made for tourist trade?
> 3)do they have any age to them?
> 4)worst case scenario, were they made 2 year ago in China,
> smeared with dung, infested with weavils, put out in sun / weather for
> 2 month before being offered to people like me on eBay?
> Any help you can give would be appreciated, I'm fairly
> philosphical about these so no need to be gentle with me.
unlikely to be an old piece, but could be a used piece. The
missionaries have been in Eket areas of Akwaibom for more than a
century so all pieces have been taken abroad, Eket pieces on sale
there and elsewhere in Nigeria are copies, made to look old by oiling
and burning to create a dark patina, (this will give a smoky
smell)then using chalk and kaolin for contrasting features. (they
churn out the moon masks as there is a good market for these.) The
Ijaw (2a) mask looks genuine to me, the villages aren't easily
accesible to tourists and they still use them regularly in festivals
so most of the pieces on the market are used. You can read more about
them in Ways of the Rivers
... Hi Cathy, thankyou for your information, I followed up on your suggestion of Eket and Mask(1a) does seem to be of this group. I notice from the mapMessage 1 of 6 , Sep 19, 2006View Source
> >Hi Cathy,
> Hi Kevin, I think your 1a.jpg looks more like an Eket mask, this is
> unlikely to be an old piece, but could be a used piece. The
> missionaries have been in Eket areas of Akwaibom for more than a
> century so all pieces have been taken abroad, Eket pieces on sale
> there and elsewhere in Nigeria are copies, made to look old by oiling
> and burning to create a dark patina, (this will give a smoky
> smell)then using chalk and kaolin for contrasting features. (they
> churn out the moon masks as there is a good market for these.) The
> Ijaw (2a) mask looks genuine to me, the villages aren't easily
> accesible to tourists and they still use them regularly in festivals
> so most of the pieces on the market are used. You can read more about
> them in Ways of the Rivers
thankyou for your information, I followed up on your suggestion of
Eket and Mask(1a) does seem to be of this group. I notice from the
map provided by Lee that the Ijo and Eket appear to be close
neighbours. Does "unlikely to be an old piece, but could be a used
piece." mean you feel it may have had a tribal life? If so I'm
happy. Age is not so important to me, usage wihin a culture I find
far more exciting. From memory the masks were shipped out to me from
France. Neither of the masks seem to have been burnt, leastways I
can detect no smoky odour. Both have what I can only describe as a
crusty sort of surface, possibly of several layers. Easy enough to
fake I guess if this was desirable to a market.
I'm glad Mask(2a) looks genuine to you - it's actually my
favourite. Do you think this may have some age / usage to it?. I
actually bought 5 masks from this person, but only these 2 have a
distinct sense of personality to them. It seems to me that with New
Guinea pieces the older ones do seem to have a sense of presence to
them where-as the more recent ones have absolutely no sense of this
what-so-ever. Perhaps this is only self delusion / wishful thinking
on my part but I do believe this to be so.
With Mask(2a) for example, in the image posted it looks quite
innoculous but in actual fact it's appearance is intimidating, in some
ways quite scary. More than one person has come into our home and
said they didn't think it should be hanging on our wall. No other
piece has elicited this response from anyone. But the funny thing
is, after living with it for a while the sense of personality I get is
very different. It seems quietly happy, content, but very dreamy - in
no way frightening. Is this sense of personality real do you think?
Do other members of this forum feel some tribal pieces have a
presence? Or am I merely exposing more of the murky depths of my
psyche than I should be comfortable with? (scary thought this).
Whatever the state of my psyche, many thanks for the help all of
you have given me with these 2 masks