X73.631 Mgbedike mask

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Object Name: Mgbedike mask

Artist: Ezeki Ngwo

Culture: Igbo peoples

Place of Origin: Awkuzu, Nigeria

Date/Era: Circa 1940-1950

Medium/Materials: Wood, plant fiber, fabric, mud, paint, teeth, seeds

Dimensions: H: 96.5 cm, W: 50.0 cm, D: 50.0 cm

Credit Line: Fowler Museum at UCLA. Gift of Mr. W. Thomas Davis.

Accession Number: X73.631


An evocation of power, this mask is called Mgbedike, or “the time of the brave.” Mgbedike masks work by harnessing the power of the natural world through a composite of forms and materials. The facial features of Mgbedike masks are not distinctly animal or human but hover ambiguously between the two categories. Igbo peoples of southeastern Nigeria create and perform a wide variety of spirit masks that embody themes of mystery, bravado, and supernatural power. The men wearing the masks and the spirits themselves are considered courageous, aggressive, and fearless. The masks make compelling visual statements about human achievement and the awesome powers of the spirit world.

Source: Gallery text, Intersections: World Arts, Local Lives, 2006.

See also: Marla C. Berns, World Arts, Local Lives: The Collections of the Fowler Museum at UCLA. Fowler Museum, Los Angeles, 2014.