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Ijo mask

Ijo mask
Ijo maskIjo maskIjo maskIjo mask
Tribe: Ijo
Country: Nigeria
Ritual: Unknown
Name: Unknown
Materials: Wood, glass, nails, oil paints
Provenance: Pablo Rossi Coll NY prior 2004. Marc Assayeg, Tookalook Native Arts, Quebec 2004, Andrew Turley, SuagaCollection 2005.
Comments: Mr Rossi is a well known artist in both Europe and the US. A respected collector and he also curates exhibitions on African Art. Mid 20th Century.

This is a smaller forehead mask with curled horns and an elongated "beak" filled with teeth. Glass eyes are inset, the "beak" is painted red and white and the remainder white with a green and on the forehead and protruding multi colour knobs. There are many nail holes around the colour where a costume of some sort was attached.

An item with the same "beak", horn and structure appeared in the Zemanek-Munster auction catalogue in 2004, Collected by H Coller (see image). It is an Ijo Kalabari mask but the colour, eyes and nose are quite different.

I sent an email to Professor Martha Andersen of Alfred University, an expert in Igbo art, to try and identify the piece. Her response was:

"This piece doesn't really look Ijo to me, nor Igbo. In fact, the first thing that struck me is that the nose looked more like masks from the Baga and related peoples of Guinea. There's a chance that it could be from somewhere in the Delta region. Those horns remind me of something I've seen before but I'm not placing them. I'm seeing some Ijebu Yoruba possibilities or even the Ogoniā€¦.I really haven't seen anything like it before".

I would be interested in further professional assessment or opinion.


  1. Professor Martha Anderson, Alfred University. 2006.
  2. Zemanek-Munster Auction Catalogue, Belgium. 2004.
  3. Marc Assayeg, Tookalook Native Arts, Quebec. 2004.