Idoma Artist (Nigeria)
Late nineteenth–early twentieth century
Wood and paint
Contact the museum for more information
Fred and Rita Richman Collection
This headdress is of a type called ungulali, a word that means “flute,” an important instrument for the orchestra that accompanied the dance of this masquerade. Such headdresses are distinguished by their multi-faced forms and use of pigment. The whitened, heart-shaped faces of this crest mask emerge in three views. Facial features, such as eyebrows, lips, and nostrils, are emphasized with dark pigment. The projecting cap or coiffure is embellished with wooden buttons (some are missing from this example) that are attached to the mask by wooden studs. Ungulali masks appear at funerals and harvest ceremonials and are used for entertainment and at other public gatherings. This mask is related to a set of stylistically similar headdresses, carved by the same artist or from the same workshop, all with multiple faces, sometimes surmounted by sculpted birds that are carved separately and attached.