Helmet Mask (Igbudu)
Arts of Africa
Because masks take on nonhuman, otherworldly characteristics, they are particularly effective as mediators of power. Despite their capacity for freedom and play, masks can also express social limits, serving as agents of calm in moments of tension or anxiety, or as frightening policers of the community on behalf of those in power.
The Igbudu mask represents the evil forces that can threaten a community. One of the only examples of Yoruba sculptural art that is deliberately unattractive, it features a sharp brow, protruding eyes, and wide mouth—all designed to frighten.
The commanding Loma mask, Okobuzogui, is used by the Poro society, a secret men’s association that serves, among other roles, to initiate boys into adulthood. Poro mythology holds that Okobuzogui “swallows” the boys in his menacing jaws as they leave the village for the initiation camp; he also accompanies them upon their return as young men.
Tugunga headdresses are worn only by those who belong to a secret Bamum society of warriors, known as the Nsoro, who perform at the funerals of important members of the community. The masks impress with their size and grandeur and elicit fear and apprehension since they represent the society charged with adjudicating disputes and protecting the king.
Wood, metal, pigment
Gift of Drs. John I. and Nicole Dintenfass
Helmet mask with raised rounded forehead. Extremely large almond-shaped eyes defined by raised ridge around perimeter. Sculpted ears project from sides at back of head. Mouth open with rectangular metal teeth inserted along perimeter. Surface of head covered with coiffure of raised concentric bands which meet in a peak at center of forhead. Solid ridge bands alternate with ones composed of continuous lines of beads. Running from crown of head down back in a series of raised forms in much higher relief. Surface covered with crusty added layer. Color: brown. CONDITION: Good. Some of metal teeth missing. Rim of base chipped. Large piece of base missing with split extending upward. Repaired with series of 2 staples by restoration department. Light breaks throughout surface.
This item is not on view
Yorùbá. Helmet Mask (Igbudu), 19th century. Wood, metal, pigment, 11 1/4 x 9 3/4 x 13 1/2 in. Brooklyn Museum, Gift of Drs. John I. and Nicole Dintenfass, 1992.135.2. Creative Commons-BY (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 1992.135.2_threequarter_PS4.jpg)
threequarter, 1992.135.2_threequarter_PS4.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph, 2016
"CUR" at the beginning of an image file name means that the image was created by a curatorial staff member. These study images may be digital point-and-shoot photographs, when we don\'t yet have high-quality studio photography, or they may be scans of older negatives, slides, or photographic prints, providing historical documentation of the object.
You may download and use Brooklyn Museum images of this three-dimensional work in accordance with a Creative Commons license
. Fair use, as understood under the United States Copyright Act, may also apply.
Please include caption information from this page and credit the Brooklyn Museum. If you need a high resolution file, please fill out our online application form
For further information about copyright, we recommend resources at the United States Library of Congress
, Cornell University
, Copyright and Cultural Institutions: Guidelines for U.S. Libraries, Archives, and Museums
, and Copyright Watch
For more information about the Museum's rights project, including how rights types are assigned, please see our blog posts on copyright
If you have any information regarding this work and rights to it, please contact email@example.com
Not every record you will find here is complete. More information is available for some works than for others, and some entries have been updated more recently. Records are frequently reviewed and revised, and we welcome
any additional information you might have.