Okpella Idu Mask
Okpella Idu Mask

The Okpella of Nigeria speak an Edo language related to Benin, their neighbors to the south. Their masquerade tradition, however, is more closely allied to the Igbo to the northwest, introduced to the Okpella in the 1920s by an immigrant Igbo carver who specialized in ancestor (Ekpo) masks. Like the Igbo, the Okpella developed a dual masquerade tradition based on the interweaving of concepts of "beauty and the beast," women's masks identified with civilization and the power of women and male masks, such as the Idu mask here, representing untamed nature and male power.

The bush cow horns, exposed teeth, snarling mouth, and roughly painted face would be set off in performance by a costume of seed pods, resembling armor and rattling with the "sound of the bush" -all enhancing its aggressive movements.

Please use arrow buttons to move to the next/previous image in the Exhibition
Return to African Art & Culture Page Click Here