The museum “hid” an African mask that all women are forbidden to see (3 photos)

Category: Archeology, PEGI 0+
21 June 2024

The mystical wooden attribute was allowed to be used during ceremonies and rituals only by Igbo men.

Oxford University's Pitt Rivers Museum has unexpectedly removed from display a wooden mask that, according to the beliefs of an African tribe, is forbidden to women to see. The establishment's staff placed a sign near the artifact warning of "cultural safety" and also removed its image from the website.

As it turned out, the mask removed from the exhibition was made by the Nigerian Igbo people. According to researchers, only men were allowed to use this mystical attribute during ceremonies and rituals.

Interestingly, warning notes appeared on a number of other exhibits.

"This may contain culturally sensitive images, words and descriptions that are not typically used in certain public or community contexts," the official website states.

The certificate for the Igbo wooden mask has had its photographs removed and the description accompanied by the words “not to be seen by women.” In addition, the curators were prohibited from publicly showing it to the media.

“We take cultural safety seriously and are committed to keeping everyone informed by providing appropriate advice,” it said.

This decision caused a wave of criticism from museum visitors. Among others, art critic and writer Ruth Millington responded to the scandal.

"Denying all women access to something that is considered taboo in one particular culture seems to me to be an extreme position, especially considering that this is in a modern, liberal and educated society. Of course, women have the right to decide for themselves whether they want to look at artifact or not, after reading about cultural characteristics,” she noted.

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