This well-used elephant spirit mask, called 'Ogbodo Enyi', was a symbol of strength and clarity for the community. It has been centuries since elephants roamed Nigeria, and this type of abstracted image of that creature is the result of verbal description rather than artistic license. Bonnie Weston (1984) reports that in 1975, when an epidemic killed many Igbo-Izzi children, a local oracle offered a successful course of healing. The oracle asked that women dance Ogbodo Enyi to show their gratitude. In subsequent years, community women have demonstrated their social identity through their own masquerades. The now-female masks chase young men, just as male dancers used to harass young women(Weston 1984:157-8). Constructed of wood and metal, fiber, and textile, the headdress form mask measures 20"L x 11.75"H x 8.25"W. The mask is in very fine condition showing good age and use; its painted surface has mellowed and softened with time. The original head pad and tie-cords are intact. From the Niger River Delta region of Nigeria. Early 20th century.
Provenance: A. Finard, Paris, France, 1980's.