Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Headdress: Janus

19th–20th century
Yoruba peoples, Ijebu group
Wood, pigment
H. 4 5/8 in. (11.7 cm)
Credit Line:
The Bryce Holcombe Collection of African Decorative Art, Gift of Bryce Holcombe, 1977
Accession Number:
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 352
Ijebu water-spirit masks are used in performances that are a part of a festival known as Agbo. The event is announced by the appearance of a water-mask in the form of an elegant elaborately coiffed woman. This mask's two hornlike projections are braids that recall coiffures worn by Ijebu priests, queens, and elders.

Diverse masks refer to the spirit entities that are perceived to inhabit coastal lagoons. Ijebu's ports have historically served as sources of commercial prosperity and cultural exchange. Inspiration for this Ijebu art form has come from the masquerades of neighboring Ijo peoples, a powerful cultural influence.
Bryce P. Holcombe, New York, until 1977

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