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Yoruba Epa Helmet Mask Seated Figure Museum Exhibit African Art

Regular Price: $2,200.00

Special Price: $999.00

Product #: 66969
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Title Yoruba Epa Helmet Mask Seated Figure Museum Exhibit African Art
Type of Object Epa Mask
Country of Origin Nigeria
People Yoruba
Materials Wood, pigment (white and blue)
Approximate Age mid 20th century
Dimensions 32.5 inches H. x 10.5 inches D. x 9.5 inches W.
Overall Condition Poor.  Most of our pieces have spent decades on at least two continents, and have been treasured by several owners.   Small splits, scrapes and cracks are a normal part of their patina attesting to their age and extensive use.  We examine each piece carefully when we receive it and report any damage we find in our listings.  Please look carefully at the pictures which may also reveal condition and damage.
Damage/Repair pigment fragile and flakes easily, chips, age cracks and wear in coiffure, in figures's arms, in apron;visible repair to crack around the base, in head of the mask; holes strunk with string along the rim


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

Additional Information: 

"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.


Recommended Reading:

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.