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Tribe: Ijo
Location: Southern Nigeria, Niger River Delta
Neighboring Peoples: Ibgo, Yoruba, Ewe, Urhubo, Isoko, Ekoi
Types of Art: Ijo are best known for their extensive production and alteration of cloth. Dress is used to signify status throughout society. They also produce wooden sculpture and memorial screens to commemorate their ancestors. Ijo carvers produced altar panels and horizontal headdresses called Otojo [2], which represent water spirits. They believe that these spirits are like humans in terms of their strengths and weaknesses and that before their birth, human beings live among the Otojo. Once born, the Ijo maintain contact with them through prayers in order to gain their favors.
Religion: Ijo traditional religion centers around water spirits who inhabit the numerous rivers and swamps of the area. Tribute is also paid to ancestors who are often represented in wooden shrine figures or memorial screens known as Nduen Fobara by Kalibari Ijo. Funeral ceremonies among the Ijo are often quite dramatic, with greater attention afforded to members of the community who have reached a combination of advanced age and high prestige. Extensive funerals are held for both women and men in preparation for sending them on their final journey away from the village to the spirit world across the river.
Credit: McIntyre, L. Lee and Christopher D. Roy. 'Art and Life in Africa Online.' 1998: The Art and Life in Africa Project, [2] The Tribal Arts of Africa, Jean-Baptiste Bacquart, p.92