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    Igbo or Ejagham (Nigeria)
    Janus Helmet Mask
    Wood, pigments, skin, nails, mirror
    Height: 27 inches Width: 10 inches Depth: 12 inches

    This janus helmet, with two separately-carved figures attached to its top inside circular openwork hair crests, is of a type made and danced by several different peoples living along the Cross River in Eastern Nigeria, and thus its provenance is uncertain. Some of these masks are skin-covered; here the black face (probably intended to be male) retains its skin covering. The other face white and female, along with the rest of the mask, is painted. The face of the larger figure on top is also skin covered. The semi-circular hair crests, with openwork zigzag struts inside the circle, have rectangular frames in the center where mirrors are set. The identity of the two figures with articulated arms, which are attached to the top, is not known. A similar helmet mask, almost certainly by the same carver, is illustrated in Three Rivers of Nigeria (Marcilene K. Wittmer and William Arnett. Three Rivers of Nigeria. Atlanta: The High Museum of Art, 1978, p.77, fig. 181).

    Such masks usually represented leaders who were - by virtue of heads facing front and back - able to see in all directions. They are often associated with ancestors and with masking societies that performed "plays" with several male and female characters in the dry season.

    Using the black face as front for reference purposes, the proper left "handle" at the headdress base is missing. The larger of the two top figures is missing the little finger of his left hand, while the small figure has lost a great part of the left hand and parts of the two middle fingers of the right. The small figure's body is separated from his right leg. Both figures lift out and are rather precariously balanced. There is a crack down the proper right side close to where the two large heads join. There is overall paint chipping.

    Provenance: H. Bruce Greene II and family, Naples, Florida

    Condition Report*: Condition report available upon request.
    *Heritage Auctions strives to provide as much information as possible but encourages in-person inspection by bidders. Statements regarding the condition of objects are only for general guidance and should not be relied upon as complete statements of fact, and do not constitute a representation, warranty or assumption of liability by Heritage. Some condition issues may not be noted in the condition report but are apparent in the provided photos which are considered part of the condition report. Please note that we do not de-frame lots estimated at $1,000 or less and may not be able to provide additional details for lots valued under $500. Heritage does not guarantee the condition of frames and shall not be liable for any damage/scratches to frames, glass/acrylic coverings, original boxes, display accessories, or art that has slipped in frames. All lots are sold "AS IS" under the Terms & Conditions of Auction.

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    June, 2007
    7th Thursday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 2
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 2,522

    Buyer's Premium per Lot:
    19.5% of the successful bid (minimum $9) per lot.

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