Ibibio peoples
mid 20th century
Artist Unidentified

Object Place: Nigeria


Overall: 23 x 14.5 x 8 cm (9 1/16 x 5 11/16 x 3 1/8 in.)

Accession Number


Medium or Technique

wood, pigment, encrustation, raffia

Not On View


Africa and Oceania, Contemporary Art



Before the rise of British colonial rule, the Igbo people were policed by masked spirits that were granted power by local elders. One masquerade that is still performed is the okorishi, which is performed during an annual masking season that lasts several weeks. The masquerade is comprised of light masks that represent female spirits and dark masks, such as this one, that represent male spirits. The light masks are elegant and represent purity and safety whereas the features of the male masks are more distorted and are symbolic of chaos and darkness.


1968, acquired in Paris by Geneviève McMillan (b. 1922 - d. 2008), Cambridge, MA; 2008, to the Geneviève McMillan and Reba Stewart Foundation, Cambridge; 2009, gift of the Geneviève McMillan and Reba Stewart Foundation to the MFA. (Accession Date: June 17, 2009)

Credit Line

Gift of Geneviève McMillan in memory of Reba Stewart