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Yoruba-Ekiti Epa Mask Nigeria 26 Inch African Art

Regular Price: $790.00

Special Price: $490.00

Product #: 73246
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Title Yoruba-Ekiti Epa Mask Nigeria 26 Inch African Art
Type of Object Epa Mask
Country of Origin Nigeria
People Yoruba-Ekiti
Materials Wood, pigment, beads, cotton cloth
Approximate Age mid/Second Half 20th Century
Dimensions 26.5 inches H. x 7.25 inches W.
Overall Condition Good. 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 Cracks and repairs (with glue) on right arm, cracks around rim, chips, holes in worn cloth

Additional Information: 

Epa masks are the largest masks danced among the Yoruba/Ekiti people of northern Nigeria. In fact, Epa masks represent some of the largest masks used in Africa, being carved from a single piece of wood that can weigh up to sixty pounds or more. They are worn as a helmet mask covering the dancer’s head completely. Among the Yoruba/Ekiti, the Epa festival celebrates life and abundance and the unity of the village, and honor the families and lineages who own and sponsor the mask and bask in a kind of reflected glory. They celebrate the life of honored elders and reinforce the corporate structure of the community. Epa masks appear during a heavily symbolic and choreographed performance during which three different large Epa masks appear in sequence.

The figure surmounting the mask is a seated person holding a bowl on head, a traditional Yoruba power symbol of offering. This figure probably represents  a female.  Women play an important, real and symbolic role in life for the Ekiti for it is women who, with their mysterious feminine powers, create life-balancing men’s social skills as rulers and chiefs. These large masks have extraordinary presence-conveying some of their power to visually project abstract principles and sculptural authority. This is one of them and it would hold a prominent place in a collection. 

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, Daniel, 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.