Maiden Spirit Helmet Mask, Agbogho Mmuo

11008137-1994_004_633_Dpa_ARC.tif

Title

Maiden Spirit Helmet Mask, Agbogho Mmuo

Keywords

Ceremonail costume, effigy, mask

Date

late 19th-early 20th Century

Context

West Africa, Nigeria
Igbo, northern

Medium/Dimensions

Wood, pigment
13 3/4 x 7 7/8 x 7 7/8 in. (34.9 x 20 x 20 cm)

Object Number

1994.004.633

Description

Maiden spirit (agbogho mmuo) masquerades perform annually during the dry season in the Nri-Awka area of northern Igboland. At these performances men dance as adolescent girls, miming and exaggerating their beauty and comportment.

They also sing tributes to both real and spirit maidens:

Mmanwu si n'igwe Masked Spirit from the sky
Udemu na lenu My fame is potent

These masks exaggerate the smallness of a young girl's ideal features while the whiteness of her complexion is likened to "the purity of white chalk," a substance used for ritually marking the body in both West Africa and the African Diaspora. The white pigment also serves as a ground for the elaborate uli decorations painted on young Igbo women's skin. Some maiden spirit masks, such as this one, have elaborate coiffures, embellished with representations of hair combs modeled after late nineteenth century ceremonial hairstyles.

Credit Line

Ex coll. William S. Arnett

Exhibits/Publications

Art of Nigeria from the William S. Arnett Collection, Michael C. Carlos Museum, October 15, 1994 - January 2, 1995
Marcilene K. Wittmer and William Arnett, Three Rivers of Nigeria: Art of the Lower Niger, Cross, and Benue from the Collection of William and Robert Arnett (Atlanta: High Museum of Art, 1978), 21, number 42.|
Michael C. Carlos Museum Handbook (Atlanta: Michael C. Carlos Museum, 1996), 102.

Rights

© Michael C. Carlos Museum, Emory University. Photo by Bruce M. White, 2011.
This image is provided by the Michael C. Carlos Museum of Emory University, who retains all rights in it. This image is made available for limited non-commercial, educational, and personal use only, or for fair use as defined by United States law. For all other uses, please contact the Michael C. Carlos Museum Office of Collections Services at +1(404) 727-4282 or mccm.collections.services@emory.edu. Users must cite the author and source of the image as they would material from any printed work, but not in any way that implies endorsement of the user or the user's use of the image. Users may not remove any copyright, trademark, or other proprietary notices, including without limitation attribution information, credits, and copyright notices that have been placed on or near the image by the Museum. The Museum assumes no responsibility for royalties or fees claimed by the artist or third parties. The User agrees to indemnify and hold harmless Emory University, its Michael C. Carlos Museum, its agents, employees, faculty members, students and trustees from and against any and all claims, losses, actions, damages, expenses, and all other liabilities, including but not limited to attorney’s fees, directly or indirectly arising out of or resulting from its use of photographic images for which permission is granted hereunder.

On View

No

Citation

“Maiden Spirit Helmet Mask, Agbogho Mmuo,” Michael C. Carlos Museum Collections Online, accessed June 23, 2018, http://carlos.digitalscholarship.emory.edu/items/show/7930.

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