X86.2574 Male horizontal mask

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Male horizontal mask (Vaa-Bong)
Mumuye peoples
Wood, pigment, hibiscus fiber
Fowler Museum at UCLA; Gift of Jim and Jeanne Pieper. X86.2574
Collected by Arnold Rubin, Nigeria, 1970


Mumuye horizontal masks perform in exclusively male groups or together with a “wife,” represented here by a monkey-like mask without horns. The male horizontal mask evokes its animal nature with distinctively rounded mouth plates and upswept horns. Subtle embellishments reference its humanity: small hair knots and tiny incisions emulating scarification. The deeply carved lines on one side of the female simian mask represent the elaborate braids worn by Mumuye women. These masks performed at agricultural rites, funerals, and the initiation of young men into the Vaa-Bong ritual association.

Shown nearby is rare film footage of two Mumuye masquerades shot by UCLA professor Arnold Rubin in the town of Zinna (Zing) and the village of Pantisawa in 1970.

Source: Gallery Wall Text, Central Nigeria Unmasked: Arts of the Benue River Valley, 2011