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The Use Of Metal Junk And Sheets In Creating An Agbomma Maiden Mask In Cultural Expression




In the Igbo land, we have different cultures which portrays what the Igbos believes in. Festivals are an integral part of Igbo traditional culture and system.  It is a period of celebration when series of performance of music, drama, films and masquerade in get given regularly especially once a year. In this annual occasion, it serves as a binding factor among the Igbos. This paper therefore views the wearing of this maiden mask as an indispensable part of Igbo culture. It further investigates the history and performance of this Igbo culture. Despite the rapid influence of the western technology, the integral part of the cultural and social event in Igbo culture and tradition. The researcher actualized the work through the use of metal construction in abstract form.




The Igbos appear to be people perpetually celebrating. This is exemplified by several cultural activities engaged in by the community of the region.  The Igbo year, “aro”, is a round of festivals and ceremonies, which vibrate with life, collier, sounds and meaning” (Okafor 1989: 133). Festivals are an integral part of Igbo traditional culture and system.  It is a period of celebration when series of performance of music, drama, film etc, are given regularly, especially once a year. The masquerades wear masks that are locally produced by indigenous sculptors, which goes a long way to explain that igbo’s do not only showcase dances, music and drama, but also worlds of art particularly sculpture.

The concept of sculptural composition would not be well understood without the researcher taking a quick glance at the history of sculpture. The origin of art of sculpture dates backs to the origin of the man, synchronizing with the primeval experiences of the pre-historic man. The early man suddenly developed the need to improve upon his skills and similarly to subject the chaotic character of nature to a portable size and gain a certain measure of control and promote fertility. He achieved this by carving out, making incised contours of the figure of animals on the walls of the caves and stones with sticks and fingers.

In the 20th century artists as Pablo Picasso who is regarded as the father of the above era, is known for his verse knowledge on all aspect of art. He executed the very first sculptural composition. This was revealed in his ram head sculpture he achieved through the use of bicycle handles as horn and the sit as the face and other employed fabricated as well as found object.

According to the Advanced Learner’s Dictionary 8th edition Sculpture’ means, “the art of shaping solid figures of stone wood, clay, metal etc”.

From the sculptural aspect, it is an art expression that involves the fabrication arrangement of metals, wood, fiber glass, bond, stone, and any sculptural medium. Coming down to the scope of this study which is Agbogho Mmanwu or Agbogho Mmuo. The Agbogho Mmuo, or Maiden Spirit, is a helmet mask intended to represent the spirit of a beautiful female ancestor and is danced during the dry season as part of agricultural rituals, as well as during funerals of prominent members of the masking secret society.

Maiden spirit (agbogho mmuo) masquerades perform annually during the dry season in the Nri-Awka area of northern Igboland. At these performances men dance as adolescent girls, miming and exaggerating their beauty and comportment.

The mask is worn by men only, who imitate the movements of a graceful female to music played on traditional drums and other instruments. Singers also participate and pay tribute to real and past girls. The whiteness of the mask does not idealize light skin, but instead indicates the spirit nature of the girl represented. The elaborate hair style with comb decorations is intended to enhance the beauty of the mask.

This maiden-spirit mask embodies Igbo ideals of youthful female beauty and cultured refinement. These ideals are expressed through its elaborate hairstyle, delicate features and facial tattoos, combined with painted decorative designs. The mask’s whitened surface suggests the smooth, glistening skin that the Igbo liken to beautiful water droplets. The ritual purity of white chalk applied to the mask symbolizes spiritual beauty. Maiden-spirit masks are worn by male dancers with colorful, close-fitting, appliqué body suits and small conical breasts. Ensembles of Maiden-spirit dancers stage theatrical performances for entertainment as well as to honor ancestral spirits.

 1.2    Statement of  the problem

          Most of the ancient cultural values in Igbo land are undergoing great transformation just like the Igbo’s face mask masquerade. Speedy modernisation, urbanization and introduction of foreign cultures such as modernized facemask has led to the undermining of our cultural values which has been in existence before the 21st century.

1.3 Scope of study

In this project the researcher’s attention will focus on the fabrication of a sculptural piece titled Agbogho Mmanwu Maiden Mask using metal junks and sheets.

1.4 Aim and Objectives

This work like any other meaningful work has some purpose why it is embarked upon. These purpose aim to satisfy the researcher’s curiosity that led to this research.

  1. To practicalize how the Agbogho Mmanwu Maiden Mask can be fabricated using metal junks and sheets
  2. To document the process in conceptualization of abstract form to sculpture
  3. To identify the origin and concept of Agbogho Mmanwu Maiden Mask.

1.5 Significance of the study

The sculptural work has been creatively constructed to commemorate the uniqueness and indispensability of Igbo people. Most especially in the area of performing art and also for further academic study in metal construction.

 1.6 Definition of Terms

Every profession has its peculiar ethical terms known to them. In this respect, a work like this will not be complete and well understood without the researcher defining the art terms that one can come across in the course of reading this project report.

  1. Armature: This is a skeletal framework that is formed to hold a sculptural work during modelling
  2. Concept: It is original ideal conceived before the creation
  3. Composition: The arrangements of motif of various shapes and forms to create a homogenous
  4. Fabrication this is the use of form in construction by shaping and joining of various parts to create a tangible
  5. Sketch: Quick drawing without much detail that serves as a guild for further

    Pages:  38

    Category: Project

    Format:  Word & PDF         

    Chapters: 1-5                                 

    Material contains Table of Content, Abstract and References.


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