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Object Name: Female crest mask (Aku-Wuwa)
Cultural Group: Jukun peoples
Date: Mid-20th century
Materials Used: Fiber
Credit line and Accession Number: Fowler Museum at UCLA. Gift of Arnold Rubin. X86.4734
Place of Origin/Date: Collected by Arnold Rubin, Nigeria, 1965
The male Aku-Wunu mask can be read in two ways: held horizontally, the mask transforms into an animal image with elliptical horns and a gaping mouth; held vertically, it becomes a human face mask with eyeholes, a long nose on its rear plate, and an overhanging chin. In performance, it is angled somewhere in between to effect a human-animal fusion. The mask’s wife (Aku-Wuwa) takes a decidedly human form, made of basketry or wood with a high ridge to represent her hairstyle.
Shown nearby is rare film footage of a Jukun Aku masquerade shot by UCLA professor Arnold Rubin in Wukari town, 1965.
Source: Gallery Wall Text, Central Nigeria Unmasked: Arts of the Benue River Valley, 2011