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ID number:  BIRRC-D0194
Institution:  Research and Cultural Collections
Named collection:  Danford Collection of West African Art and Artefacts
Artist / Maker:  Labitan or Olamiyan
Title / Object name:  Dance mask
Object type:  Mask
Place made:  Offa, W. Nigeria
Culture:  Yoruba
Materials:  Black stained wood
Measurements:  20 cm
BIRRC-D0194.jpg

This Yoruba mask has been based on a human head wearing a peaked cap. Masks like this that are intended for ritual masquerade purposes tend to represent either human or spirit bodies. In this case the figure is human and in keeping with the tradition of naturalistic representation often found in Yoruba carving. This particular mask was carved by either Labitan or Olamiyan, both of whom died in the 1940s. This piece was lent by John Danford in 1964.

John Danford spent the majority of his professional life working for the British Council in West Africa. He spent 11 years as the representative in Ibadan, Nigeria, his arts education providing him with the insight to encourage and develop the arts in Nigeria. For his achievements in this area he was awarded an OBE in 1953. He occupied three further posts in Trinidad, Manchester and Sierra Leone before illness forced him into retirement. In 1964 a large portion of his West African arts collection was loaned to the University of Birmingham before being purchased in 1975, forming the nucleus of the Danford Collection of West African Art and Artefacts.

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