From the personal Collection of Elizabeth Bennett-Sara F. Luther.
Exhibited at the South Dakota Art Museum
Published in: Daniel Mato, PhD., Chelsea Cooksey, YORUBA: AN ART OF LIFE. The Bennett-Luther Collection Africa Direct, Denver, Colorado, 2004, fig. 37, p. 50
"Well worn Epa mask depicting a colorful female figure wearing a blue and white striped apron and seated on a large helmet (Ikiko). Various features allude to the personality of the deceased person in whose honor the mask was commissioned. In one hand she holds a staff, an indicator of rank; in the other , hand an animal horn, used to hold magical substances. When the mask is rotated the woman is shown to be sitting on a smaller head that looks out to the audience from the back of the mask. The bold carving of this mask reflects a localized style drawn from a number of sources. Before each masquerade appearance, the Epa mask is repainted by the family that owns it. Colored first with an overall application of red ochre, its sculptural details are then emphasized with a contrasting blue, made from native indigo or Reckitt's blueing, or white composd of bird lime and shells. " (Daniel Mato, PhD., Chelsea Cooksey, YORUBA: AN ART OF LIFE. fig. 37, p. 50)
The Epa cult is a male group in Northeastern Yorubaland, Ekiti, which has a festival every other year. The masks are "two story," large helmet masks, with the lower figure representing an ancestral warrior, and the upper part of the mask representing the history of the community. They are carved from a single block of aberinberin wood. Before each ceremony, the masks are washed and repainted.
Drewal , H. J. and J. Pemberton III, with R. Abiodun Yoruba: Nine Centuries of African Art and Thought, (New York, 1989)
Drewal, H. J. and M. Thompson Drewal., Gelede, Art and Female Power among the Yoruba. 1983.
Fagg, W. and J. Pemberton III: Yoruba Sculpture of West Africa, (New York, 1982)
Lawal, B.: The Gelede Spectacle. Art, Gender, and Social Harmony in an African Culture. (Seattle, London 1996)
Mato, D., Chelsea Cooksey, Yoruba: Art of Life. The Bennett-Luther Collection, Denver 2004
Witte, H.: A Closer Look; Local Styles in the Yoruba Art Collection of the Afrika Museum, Berg en Dal. 2004.
I have examined this piece and agree with the description.
Niangi Batulukisi, PhD.