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Object Name: Elephant mask
Place of Origin: Nigeria
Cultural Group: Ekpari Clan
Materials Used: Wood, pigment, iron nails, coins
Dimensions: H: 46.5 cm, W: 40.0 cm, D: 169.0 cm (H: 18.3 in, W: 15.7 in, D: 66.5 in)
Credit Line and Accession Number: Fowler Museum at UCLA. The Jerome L. Joss Collection. X90.366
The attribution on this mask, like many objects from Africa, has been complicated by war, migration and resettlement, which have separated indigenous populations who possess similar (or in this case, the same) mask traditions. This mask has been attributed to the Idoma because of its resemblance to two elephant masks first documented by Sieber in 1959 (Sieber 1961: ill. 20, 20a). However, it differs from these two masks in important ways: the supporting structure is different, and this Joss mask has a small human figure carved in high relief on either side of the head. A third distinctive feature of this mask is the use of British West African pennies, one of which is dated 1913, to define the eyes.
Source: Ross, Doran H. ed. (1994): “Visions of Africa”, Los Angeles, UCLA Fowler Museum of Cultural History.