Mask in form of hunter-ancestor head, as used by Yoruba people

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in southern Nigeria

Postcard of Mask in form of hunter-ancestor head, as used by Yoruba people.
© National Museums Scotland

Mask in form of hunter-ancestor head, as used by Yoruba people

This mask, worn with a costume covering all of the wearer's body,shows the head of an ancestor associated with hunting. It would be used in dances before hunting trips, after an important person's death and during crises, to summon the ancestral spirit.

The mask has been carved from a single piece of wood, with colour used to highlight the hair, beard, tribal scars and face. The hair is shown as a rigid ponytail. The mask may have been made by a carver called Adugbologe in Abeokuta in Nigeria.

The ancestors have traditionally been very important to many inhabitants of Africa south of the Sahara. The hunter-ancestor has been important to the Yoruba, who have called up his spirit, by dancing in the costume, when his help is required.

Record details

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Online ID: 000-180-000-785-C
Image Rights Holder: National Museums Scotland
Project: 0504: National Museums Scotland Part 2
Project description | View all records in project
Ref: National Museums Scotland  A.1975.27
Date: Around 1920 to 1940
Before 1940
Material: Carved and painted wood
Dimensions: 280 mm H x 180 mm W
What: Headdress
Subject: Masks
Who: Adugbologe, Emere quarter, Abeokuta, Nigeria (Carver)
Where: Nigeria, Abeokuta, Emere Quarter
Description: Headdress of carved and painted wood in form of a man's head, 'Egungun' type: West Africa, Nigeria, Yoruba, probably made by Adugbologe of the Emere quarter of Abeokuta before 1940
  • Sheridan, J A (ed). Heaven and Hell and Other Worlds of the Dead. Edinburgh: National Museum of Scotland, 2000. 
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