Beautiful rare and old Bini mask Nigeria (Edo State)
Wood, paint, pigment, encrusted patina 5 ( see the image gallery down this page )
Size : 27cm x 14cm Weight 320 grams Probable age: End XIXth – Early 20th Century
Provenance: Dr. Gordon K. Mackenzie ( 1913-1992 ), Washington D. C., USA. A geologist and paleontologist who collected African and Pre-columbian Art. Some of his objects where exhibited in the Washington Museum in 1972.
Ex David Malik Gallery, London, UK
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Mask of the Bini or Ibibio people
The Article below was found at Yahoo answers : What is a Bini mask
The Bini people of Nigeria of the great Kingdom of Benin are located around present day Benin City. The Bini mask is one of Nigeria's most famous and is the symbol of Nigerian arts and culture. These masks are worn by members of the Ekpo-society, who take care of the well-being of the village and settle disputes.Ekpo members wear masks, raffin capes, and other accouterments to impersonate the ancestors and other dead members of the society. The the dancer is covered by a costume of grasses attached to the mask. Rituals are performed for planting, harvesting (yam harvest) and funerals. During important the annual yam harvest, members imitated ancestors who were believed to have briefly returned to the world of the living. The mask was also a part of the rituals to propitiate the gods and to protect the people against illness. Drumming and music are also important elements in Ekpo ceremonies. The form of the masks probably derives elements from their better known neighbors the Yoruba.Some wooden Bini mask have a distinctly simplified style. The mouth is delicately rendered; the nose is narrow and long; above the eyes, which have no pupils, there are bulging eyelids. They are very different from the ostentatious courtly style of the tribal woodcarvings of the Bini who lived in the environs of Benin. The petty tribal chiefs used to produce for their altars wooden commemorative ancestor heads and would carve masks representing departed souls, which were used in dances to exorcize demons. The facial features of these spirit masks are more delicate and less naturalistic than the idealized and schematized portraits found in courtly art.Long curved horns are considered particularly beautiful in Bini aesthetic judgments of animals and a special praise name, Azigho, is applied to animals exhibiting this trait. One of the masks most commonly used in the Ekpo cult healing rituals is called Azigho.
Bini masks are related to the Ekpo
The Ekpo, which is strictly for men, is technically in charge of initiations and directing ceremonies venerating ancestors, who are the most important influence in Ibibio culture. Masked Ekpo dancers direct funerals to insure that the dead receive the proper respect. If they do not, punishment can be swift and brutal, and the Ekpo, as practiced by the Ibibio, who number over one million, has sometimes been described as “police brutality,” such is their stranglehold on political and social power. In fact, the Ekpo was so dominant during British occupation that colonial officials just relented and allowed the society to operate.
Ekpo masks can be serene and beautiful, or fierce and frightening. Ibibio carvers are highly respected throughout the Niger Delta and Cross River areas, and they are often asked to carve masks for other groups, like the Boki, Anang, and Ogoni. The Ogoni, in fact, do not have an Ekpo Society, but enjoy Ekpo dances, and have, on occasion, purchased masks from Ibibio carvers.