Skip to main content



Artwork Details

20th century
wood, white and black pigment
13 9/16 in x 9 1/16 in x 11 13/16 in (34.5 cm x 23 cm x 30 cm);13 9/16 in x 9 1/16 in x 11 13/16 in (34.5 cm x 23 cm x 30 cm);19 1/2 in x 9 1/16 in x 11 13/16 in (49.5 cm x 23 cm x 30 cm)
Gift of Susan B. and John F. Ullrich

On Display

Not currently on display


Subject Matter:

To celebrate the beauty of young women and their potential within the community, men embody female roles by wearing masks called agbogho mmuo, meaning 'maiden spirit'. Mmuo, meaning spirit or ghost, along with the white paint used, connect the mask with the power of ancestors and spirits. Aside from white pigment signifying beauty and youth, the white clay it represents is often used as a sacrificial food for gods and spirits. While these masquerades are still performed today, it is often in secular or theatrical contexts; this is in contrast to their past use governing certain aspects of Igbo society. 

References Cited: 
Cole, Herbert M. 2013. Visions of Africa: Igbo. Milan: 5 Continents Editions.

Physical Description:

Wooden mask in the form of a female head. The face has traces of white pigment and the lips, nose, eyebrows, and chin are defined with black pigment. There are three small dots in a column on each side of the face. The hair is decorated with spiral designs. Four conical protrusions topped with knobs form the crest of the hairstyle, while four spiral cones curve down from the crest on either side of the head; the two closest to the front on each side are connected at the bottom.

Usage Rights:

If you are interested in using an image for a publication, please visit for more information and to fill out the online Image Rights and Reproductions Request Form.