Idoma , Objet art of the ethnic Idoma -
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Idoma artists are renowned for their feminine statues  with a half opened mouth revealing their teeth, and vertical scarification marks on the temples, a distinguishing mark of Anjenu statues. There are also the masks and crests of the Oglinye warrior society and the Janus crest masks that were used during funeral ceremonies.

The Idoma live at the confluence of the Benue and Niger rivers. Today, there are around 500,000 Idoma that farm and sell their produce. Both their art and their customs have been influenced by the Igbo, from the Cross River and the Igala and it is often difficult to distinguish their work from that of their neighbours.

Each lineage (patrilineal), live in small round houses built around a central square. Occasionally, several lineages come together to elect a new village chief from among the council of elders.

The Idoma believe that they were created by a God and entrust the responsibility of certain cults to different societies.

-        The Alekwu society is responsible for the periodical resurrection of the ancestors who play a determining social role. The earth, which is the home of the ancestors, has its sanctuaries. Offerings are made in order to rectify trespasses made against them.

-        The Oglinye society unites the royal lineages that have the right to possess the masks. The members of the Oglinye society, who were warriors in the past, use helmet and crest masks with extremely simplified circular heads, a vertical strand of hair, two rounded eyes and a mouth.

Idoma artists are renowned for their feminine statues that have a half opened mouth revealing their teeth, and vertical scarification marks on the temples. The face is generally covered with white pigment not unlike those of their Igbo neighbours. Several types of statue of this kind have been recorded:

  • Anjenu which are statues are used on small altars for fecundity rites, representing the spirits of the bush that live near the rivers. The Anjenu are also honoured in certain ceremonies during which white faced mortuary masks with slit eyes participate.
  • The Ekwotame which is a statue, often seated and covered in black pigment. This type of statue represents the ancestors and refers to the notion of lineage. They are placed next to the body of the deceased during funerals.
  • Seated statues with one or two children and which symbolize fertility.

Other Janus type or multi headed crest masks are also used by the Idoma during funeral ceremonies and certain festivities.

Okua masks are worn by the southern Idoma at important peoples’ funerals. They have scars running across the forehead, the temples and the cheeks. They have an open mouth and a smooth hairstyle.


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