Ibo Funeral Mask

20th Century
Ibo Peoples, Nigeria
Wood, pigment, 15 x 8 in.
Gift of Ernst Ansbach

The Ibo peoples have produced the greatest range of artistic styles, so it is often difficult to attribute a specific work to a specific area. This mask, said to be Ibo, is believed to have been made for funerary purposes. Among the Ibo peoples it is believed that once a person died communication from the spirit world was possible through funerary masks worn by members of a secret society at the funeral. These individuals were responsible for ensuring that the spirit of the deceased found its way to the spirit world and did not remain in the village to cause trouble. The bright colors of this mask suggest that it is from the South rather than the North, where the masks typically are painted white.