Nmuo — Spirit masks of the Nigerian Igbos

Nmuo is an Igbo word meaning "spirit". The Igbo, of Nigeria, believe that sacred objects embody spirit beings that are effective in rituals. Rituals are used in healing the body and mind, improving fertility, bringing luck to the harvest, courage in grief, and honor and homage to ancestral spirits. Rituals are used during funerals, weddings, communal celebrations, and in the glorification of God.

The beauty, variety, power and symbolism of the Igbo masks can be seen in the Museum's collection, which represents thousands of years of Igbo and other African traditions. The objects are valuable for their artistic and ornamental purposes, and most have deep spiritual significance.

Igbo and other African peoples are noted for their artistic ingenuity and creativity. The Museum's collection of masks and objects is primarily from the nine villages of Oba-Idemili, a region in the Igbo ethnic group of southeastern Nigeria.

The art provides insight into the cultural history, customs, values and spiritual beliefs of the Oba people and Igbo Africans. Primarily known for their skill in palm-wine tapping, spiritual power in healing, magical charms and awesome masks, Oba-Idemili people have been remarkably successful in retaining their ancestral culture in the changing world. The inherent power of ritual and communication projected in this collection speaks to all regardless of age, race, religion and sexual orientation.

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