Igbo Masks

The Igbo (or Ibo) are an ethnic group of southern Nigeria, indigenous to the lower Niger River. They are one of the largest ethnic groups in Africa. Masking is one of the most common art styles and it is linked with Igbo traditional music. Igbo masks can be made of wood, fabric, iron or vegetation and have various uses, mainly in social satires, religious rituals, secret society initiations (such as the Ekpe or Mmo societies). Many other decorative wooden objects are made, including musical instruments, doors, stools, mirror frames, trays, dolls and small figures used in divination.

Igbo masks
Igbo masks
Igbo masks
Igbo masks

Igbo Mmwo mask

This mask by ethnic group Igbo is very particular. It is multicomposed, being made by fabric, wood and natural fibers. The oval-shaped face is attached to a basket weave hat and is colored with black and white patina. “Mmwo” means “spirit”; dancers used to wear this kind of artwork during ritual ceremonies and funerals, to convey dead men’s spirits into the afterworld.

Igbo Mmwo mask