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ID number:  BIRRC-D0012
Institution:  Research and Cultural Collections
Named collection:  Danford Collection of West African Art and Artefacts
Title / Object name:  Horizontal dance mask
Object type:  Mask
Place made:  Niger Delta, S. Nigeria
Culture:  Ijo
Collector:  Danford, John
Materials:  Painted wood
Measurements:  81 x 21 cm

This wooden Ijo or Ijaw mask had been painted in black, beige and white.

The Ijo are primarily fishermen of the Niger Delta and hold strong beliefs in water spirits, as is obvious here from the carving of the fish at the tip of the mask. Like the Edo, the Ijo are also partly a masquerade society, with pieces such as this playing a key role in religious and spiritual ceremonies. This particular piece was collected in 1951 by John Danford.

Notes:  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.

1 Related People

Danford, John

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