Angas seed mask, Nigeria
13" tall (mask only) x 8" wide, 17" with attachments
Ex private US collection, reportedly collected in the 40's.
Some minor seed and cotton loss, but in very good shape for its age.
The eyes were blacked out with cloth for the photos.
I've priced this mask aggressively and am offering it for the price I paid for it. I have 2
of these masks in my collection and have decided to only keep one.
These masks are somewhat uncommon and until very recently they were identified as
being from the Koro people of Nigeria. The red arbus seeds (poisonous) were
meticulously threaded and attached to the plant fiber structure in rows forming a
wonderful overall visual. Cotton tufts are hanging at the ends of strands of arbus
seeds around the base of the mask. A friend of mine talked to a man from Nigeria
familiar with these masks and was told "that every row had to have an odd number of
seeds, and all the rows added together had to make an odd number as well." These
masks have been reported as being sold to outsiders since the 50's and most all
examples show little use.
Even though constructed from plant fiber and seeds, this mask has a strong sculptural
form and a powerful presence in a room.
"This dance mask comes from the Ngass, or Angas, people located in the Plateau
State region of northeastern Nigeria. The mask is made of plant fibers woven together
and decorated with red abrus seeds and tufts of cotton. The mask is meant to cover
the entire head and was likely worn with a billowing cloth robe to complete the
masquerade. A mask such as this was possibly used as part of a masquerade for a
men's secret society. The design of this mask and use of red abrus seeds for
decoration is extremely similar to the masks used for the Jankai masquerade by the
Hausa and other groups within the Plateau State. Jankai is a men's secret society,
and the name is a Hausa word meaning "Red Head". Jankai appears at harvest-time
dressed in a red helmet mask and billowing cloth garment." - Spurlock Museum
|For additional detail, click on any photo below to see the higher resolution version of the image.