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Ijo peoples (Kalabari subgroup), Degama area, Nigeria
Hippopotamus Mask, Otobo
Collected ca. 1916
Wood, incrustation, pigment
H. 18 1/2 in. (47 cm)
Raymond and Laura Wielgus Collection
Indiana University Art Museum, 96.49


Among the Kalabari Ijo peoples, who live in the delta area of the lower Niger River, important rituals honor and appease water spirits, who were believed responsible for ensuring the Ijo's food supply and their fertility. This mask represents one of these water spirits, otobo, “hippopotamus.” When worn, the mask was positioned on top of the head and decorated with feathers and cloth.