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“Spirit Elephant” Headdress (Ogbodo Enyi)
20th century

This dynamic headdress, worn horizontally atop the head, references Igbo ideas regarding the elephant (enyi). The large ears, tusks and an arched shape that suggests a trunk are all recognizable parts, but they allude more to a concept of the animal¿s essence than a representation of its form. White, black and red pigments further define the complex play of solid and void, angle and curve. Holes along the bottom edge of the mask would have held a knotted raffia costume.

This type of mask is danced at masquerades occurring during funerals and dry-season festivals. A male dancer performs energetically throughout the village for several hours, thereby simulating the elephant¿s endurance. Most performers in African masquerades are men, but in some areas of Igbo territory, women also dance this mask in ceremonies aimed at reducing infant mortality.

 
Igbo peoples KV:12950
“Spirit Elephant” Headdress (Ogbodo Enyi)
20th century
wood, pigment
31.0 x 27.0 x 54.0 cm
Gift of Justin and Elisabeth Lang, 1984
M84-168

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