Aniakor’s text on The Ijele Mask

The Ijele mask is clearly a very grand and elaborate piece of artwork in both size and design. From the article it looks and sounds like a very impressive piece of work, not only is it very large being even over six metres in height but it also encompasses a lot in its design. It has many designs and patterns a lot of which are taken from nature for example the article opens comparing the mask to an elephant that dominates the animal world; showing the powerful design of the mask. It also mentions how other animals such as leopards and pythons may appear on the design. The python for example represents the river God which demonstrates links to religion enhancing the power of the mark. The symbols on the mask represent important aspects of the Igbo world and the sheer size of it is said to enhance the aura and mystical powers of Ijele.

The importance of the mask is also reinstated in the way in which it is displayed. Only being displayed once every 25 years, when it is displayed, it is a real occasion for celebration amongst the Igbo. People travel from afar just to view the structure. It sends excitement and anticipation throughout the community. The way it is displayed is also not done in the same way as we would view art but instead is made into a show. The mask is displayed by an accompaniment of music and dancers as the mask itself dances around creating a big atmosphere and much excitement amongst people.

The mask not only brings the community together it also is a symbolism of wealth and or status. It is without a doubt the most monumental of all masks for the Igbo. Large amounts of money are spent in creating it. I was shocked to read that one panel alone costs at least $400 and since it is made up of so many of these panels the final cost would be much larger. Only people with wealth or titles can afford works of art so majestic. It is a symbol of success and is seen as an “artistic projection of the Igbo ideal of achievement.” I found the article very interesting to read and liked the fact the mask is more than just a mask as it has such deeper meaning and symbolism. The mask isn’t just a piece of art to the Igbo and is a symbolism of their life, spiritual beliefs and achievements.


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