Dr. Imo Nse Imeh, Assistant Professor of Art and Art History at Westfield State University in Massachusetts and scholar of African Art and African Diaspora aesthetic history and philosophy.
Originally presented at the prestigious Art Institute of Chicago, this lecture considers two intriguing masks known as Agbogho Mmuo, or “maiden spirit,” in the museum’s collection of African Art as part of an historical continuum of representations of powerful female beings throughout southern Nigeria, especially in the Cross River region (which includes the Igbo, Ibibio, Efik, and Ejagham cultures). In particular, this lecture discusses a number of remarkable connections between the “maiden spirit” masquerade among the Igbo people and the mbopo institution of the Ibibio people, which is characterized largely by the seclusion and ritual fattening of young women as a means of beautification, rites of passage, and marriage preparation. This lecture also touches on the extension of these rich cultural phenomena in Nigeria into global Black Diaspora networks and contemporary forms of representation.
Image: Hip Sista no. 1, Victor Ekpuk, 2014