Smithsonian Collections

Crest mask

Image for Crest mask
Data Source
National Museum of African Art
Label Text
Egungun masquerades appear at annual festivals, funerals and special local events throughout the year. Generally, they honor the spirits of ancestors--either by portraying them or demonstrating to the ancestors that their descendents are upholding their traditions.
While some masks are made totally of cloth, others--especially character masks--have a sculpted wood crest or face. This crest mask, with prominent facial marks, may depict an ancestor or be an unknown character. Without the complete costume and accompanying music, songs and dance, identification of egungun is difficult.
Description
Wood crest mask in the form of a stylized human head, with a crest hairstyle covered with linear incised decoration and blue pigment. The face and neck have red pigment, semicircular eyes placed against the hairline, rows of horizontal scarification lines and a flared plain wood base pierced with attachment holes.
Provenance
Anonymous donor, acquired Lagos, Nigeria, 1970 to 1996
Exhibition History
Gifts to the National Collection of African Art, National Museum of African Art, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C., September 17, 1997-January 4, 1998
Maker
Yoruba artist
Date
ca. 1950
Credit Line
Anonymous gift in memory of Sylvia H. Williams
Medium
Wood, pigment
Dimensions
H x W x D: 39.7 x 14.9 x 18.6 cm (15 5/8 x 5 7/8 x 7 5/16 in.)
Type
Mask
See more items in
National Museum of African Art Collection
Object number
96-39-1
Topic
Ancestral
Geography
Nigeria
Object Name
egungun