210836 - OLD Rare & Tribal used Urhobo Erhi mask - Nigeria.


Antique Tribal used African Urhobo Erhi mask, Nigeria.

Hand carved from a single piece of wood. For condition see the photo's.

Height: 36 cm.

This mask was collected between 1940 and 1960 and ended up in my private collection in 1997.

The Urhobos are people located in southern Nigeria, near the northwestern Niger Delta. The Urhobo are the major ethnic group in Delta State, one of the 36 states of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. The Urhobos speak the Urhobo language. The word Urhobo refers to a group of people rather than a territory. Approximately four million people are Urhobos. They have a social and cultural affinity to the Edo people of Nigeria. Urhobo territory consists of evergreen forests with many oil palm trees. The territory is covered by a network of streams, whose volume and flow are directly affected by the seasons. The wet season is traditionally from April to October, and dry season ranges from November to March. The Urhobos live very close to, and sometimes in boats on the Niger river. Most of their histories, mythologies, and philosophies are water-related. Annual fishing festivals that include masquerades, fishing, swimming contests and dancing, that became part of the Urhobo heritage. An annual, two-day, festival, called Ohworu takes place in Evwreni, the southern part of the Urhobo area. During this festival the Ohworhu water spirit and the Eravwe Oganga are displayed. The main focus of Urhobo traditional religion is the adoration of "Ọghẹnẹ" (Almighty God), the supreme deity, and recognition of Edjo and Erhan (divinities). Some of these divinities could be regarded as personified attributes of Ọghẹnẹ. The Urhobo also worship God with Orhen (white chalk). If an Urhobo feels oppressed by someone, he appeals to Ọghẹnẹ, who he believes to be an impartial judge, to adjudicate between him and his opponent. Oghene is the fundamental factor and manifestation of all divinities. Urhobo divinities can be classified into four main categories, which probably coincide with historical development. These categories are Guardian divinities, War divinities, Prosperity divinities and Fertility and Ethical divinities. Erivwin, which is the cult of ancestors and predecessors (Esemo and Iniemo), is another important element. The dead are believed to be living, and looked upon as active members who watch over the affairs of their family. Urhobos believe in the duality of man, i.e., that man consists of two beings: physical body (Ugboma) and spiritual body (Erhi). It is the Erhi that declares man's destiny and controls the self-realization of man's destiny before he incarnates into the world. Erhi also controls the overall well being (Ufuoma) of the man. Ọghẹnẹ is like a monarch who sets his seal on the path of destiny. In the spirit world, Erivwin, man's destiny is ratified and sealed. In the final journey of the Erhi, after transition, the Urhobo believe the physical body, Ugboma, decays while the Erhi is indestructible and joins the ancestors in Erivwin. The elaborate and symbolic burial rites are meant to prepare the departed Erhi for happy re-union with the ancestors. Despite this age-old and complex belief system, the influence of western civilization and Christianity is fast becoming an acceptable religion in most Urhobo communities. Many belong to Catholic and new evangelical denominations. Epha divination, similar to the Yoruba Ifá and practiced by many West African ethnic groups, is practiced with strings of cowries. There are 1,261 ejo (deities), including the one-handed, one-legged mirror-holding whirlwind-god Aziza