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Re: Help identify Mask

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  • havanajake
    I agree completely with your assessment of the mask, and of the general reality in Africa. I accept now, after much research that the mask (most probably)
    Message 1 of 5 , Oct 30, 2008
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      I agree completely with your assessment of the mask, and of the
      general "reality" in Africa. I accept now, after much research that
      the mask (most probably) can not be considered "traditional".
      Nonetheless, I believe in its authenticity. (Of course, this is an
      easy and self-satisfying position to take...)

      Regarding Indonesian influence, yes, Felix has addressed the issue,
      but I think no one more comprehensively than Dick-Read. The question
      does still linger: "why would they travel around to the west coast
      and end up in the Niger Delta?". However, because we don't know the
      answer to that riddle, we should not disregard the body of evidence
      for that very reality. (Check out:
      http://www.phantomvoyagers.com/Book.htm )

      MAny thanks for your interesting thoughts.

      Kind regards,
      Christopher Mullen (Jake)

      --- In African_Arts@yahoogroups.com, Veronique Martelliere
      <proximatribal@...> wrote:
      > "Please, carver, for the masquerade of next festival, could you
      make a mask of this stranger who came to our village, some time ago,
      and who was so much fun ?".
      > It is a truism to recall that everything in Africa is not serious,
      grave and codified : as well as in other parts of the world,
      masquerades can be a time of fun, using faces of characters whom the
      whole community know or remember.
      > Maybe this mask is a reflection of the face of any visitor... maybe
      a collector who came to an Ibibio village, trying to
      find "antiques" ?
      > So, i believe your mask is authentic : not traditional for sure,
      but not made for trade either. 
      > As to the influence of Indonesian/Malay arts in Africa : it has
      been well established concerning East Africa -in Madagascar
      especially but also in Kenya & Tanzania (cf Marc L. Felix, for
      > But, as to indonesian sailors, i wonder why they would travel
      around and end in Nigeria with masks of the Ramayana or Mahabharata ?
      > Cheers
      > Vero
      > ________________________________
      > From: havanajake <havanajake@...>
      > To: African_Arts@yahoogroups.com
      > Sent: Thursday, October 30, 2008 3:09:40 AM
      > Subject: [African_Arts] Re: Help identify Mask
      > Dear Lee,
      > Thank you for your very kind and well researched response to my
      > query. I sent a message previously regarding your response but it
      > not shown up in the forum. Probably I pushed the wrong button.
      > I wish that I could see your illustartion of "Richly colored and
      > realist portrayal with super-structural, surmounting head atop the
      > mask's face". It did not show up on my computer and I could find no
      > alternate URL or anything. (Probably its in the same place as my
      > previous message.)
      > I am grateful for your research regarding my mask. From my own
      > research I can say that the skull mounted thus on the top of the
      > cranium has stylistic similarities to masks from the Igala, Yorouba
      > and the Tiv. I have seen Ogoni masks with an articulated jaw upon
      > which is mounted a skull of almost equal size to the face of the
      > itself. None of these are strikingly similar to the mask in
      > though.
      > The mouth open and baring the teeth is a little harder to pin down
      > stylistically. There are numerous examples of such an open-mouthed
      > visage amongst the Yoruba, Igbo, Igala and others, perhaps most
      > notably the Ekoi, but none that I am aware of that reach a level of
      > similarity that bespeaks a direct cultural connection to the maker
      > this mask.
      > The Igala, Igbo and Ogoni, of course, live in direct proximity
      > the southernmost reaches of the Niger river. The Tiv are close
      > neighbours, as are the Yorouba and Ekoi. Therefore, one could
      > perhaps that this mask is some stylistic variation using influences
      > from more than one group—a relatively common thing.
      > My recent travels to the north of Nigeria were, in part, to
      > in situ some of the ideas presented by Robert Dick-Read in his book
      > The Phantom Voyagers. In this book, Dick-Read puts forward the idea
      > that African culture and civilization was influenced, perhaps to a
      > large degree, by Indonesian culture. This was effected by
      > from Indonesian mariners who carried forth some of the technical
      > crafts of Indonesia (e.g., metallurgy and perhaps architecture) ,
      > of the social elements (e.g., music, costume etc.), some
      > aspects (e.g., bananas), etc., etc.
      > I am particularly interested in this mask, in part, because the
      > stylistic influences seem to be somewhat Asian. By that I mean that
      > the character represented appears to have smooth hair, a definable
      > and smooth moustache, beard and sideburns, an aquiline nose,
      > defined eyebrows and other features that imply an Asian man. And,
      > while the mask is rather recent—I date it to no more than 40 years
      > old and probably less—if it can be shown to have authentic
      > antecedents in the indigenous carving of Nigeria, that could be a
      > very interesting development in support of the intellectual work of
      > Robert Dick-Read.
      > Anyway, it is altogether possible that it is a "decorative" piece,
      > conceived and skillfully carried out by a wily Nigerian with time
      > his hands and a greedy eye. I accept the possibility.
      > Many thanks again for your contributions to my investigation.
      > Christopher Mullen (Jake)
      > --- In African_Arts@ yahoogroups. com, Lee Rubinstein
      > <LeeRubinstein@ ...> wrote:
      > >
      > > Jake:
      > >
      > > I also do not find any masks that strongly resemble the mask you
      > > queried and wonder perhaps if your mask might not be from an
      > origin
      > > other than Nigerian, even non-African; however, the mask does
      > include
      > > elements -- such as partial skulls surmounting the face, more
      > realist
      > > portrayal and rich coloration which appear -- although not all at
      > once
      > > -- in various masks from the Ibibio, particularly the Anang.
      > Although
      > > I have not been able to locate many examples for comparison, that
      > > might be an area to explore for the possible location of some
      > related
      > > examples. Below are a couple of masks (again not strongly
      > resembling
      > > the mask you presented) that make me think this could be a
      > productive
      > > lead. Some published sources with which to begin include:
      > >
      > > Joseph J. Akpan, "Ekpo society masks of the Ibibio," African Arts
      > > Volume XXVII, Number 4 (Autumn, 1994): pp. 48-53; 94-95.
      > >
      > > Messenger, John C., "The Role of the Carver in Anang Society," in
      > > Warren L. D'Azevedo, ed., The Traditional Artist in African
      > Societies,
      > > edited by (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1973).
      > >
      > >
      > > Lee
      > >
      > > With surmounting partial skulls:
      > >
      > > Idiok Ekpo Mask, Anang Ibibio. QB N° inventaire : 73.1996.1.31
      > > Cat. No. 213, p. 165 in Arts du Nigeria (Paris: Réunion des
      > musées
      > > nationaux, 1997).
      > > Also at http://www.elysian-
      > fields.k12.tx. us/teacherwebs/ damiller/ AfricanArt/ Digging
      > > Deeper.html
      > >
      > > Richly colored and realist portrayal with super-structural,
      > > surmounting head atop the mask's face:
      > >
      > > Anang Ibibio, Fred and Rita Richman Collection, High Museum of
      > > (2003)
      > > Source: Artnet
      > >
      > >
      > > On Oct 24, 2008, at 3:51 PM, havanajake wrote:
      > >
      > > > I just returned from Nigeria with this mask. I have a lot of
      > > > experience
      > > > in west Africa but almost none in Nigeria. I believe this to be
      > > > authentic, however can find no references in the literature or
      > the
      > > > net. Can anyone help with attribution to tribe or info about
      > type
      > > > etc etc. Many, many thanks to all.
      > > >
      > > > http://ph.groups. yahoo.com/ group/African_ Arts/photos/
      > c=
      > > >
      > > >
      > > >
      > >
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