Carved epa mask, Nigeria, North Africa, 1870-1920

Made:
1870-1920 in Nigeria
maker:
Yoruba people

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Science Museum Group Collection
© The Board of Trustees of the Science Museum

Science Museum Group Collection
© The Board of Trustees of the Science Museum

Carved wooden polychrome epa mask, Janus helmet mask with superstructure of woman using pestle and mortar, one child on her back, made by Yoruba of Ekiti kingdoms, Nigeria, 1870-1920 and exhibited at British Empire Exhibition 1924

The Yoruba of the Ekiti kingdoms of Nigeria, North Africa made this mask. It was carved from a single piece of wood and is known as an ‘Epa’ mask. It is one of the largest types of mask worn during traditional dances in Africa. The lower part covers the dancer’s head and features two faces: one facing forward and one facing backwards. Above this is the superstructure of a woman using a pestle and mortar. One child is on her back, and one is holding the mortar.

Epa masks are worn during elaborate choreographed dances during the Northern Yoruba People’s Epa festival. This weeklong celebration of life and family ancestry is dedicated to the deity Epa, who is believed to have been a great woodcarver. This example exhibited at the British Empire Exhibition in 1924.

Details

Category:
Ethnography and Folk Medicine
Object Number:
A37289
type:
mask
taxonomy:
  • furnishing and equipment
  • costume
status:
Loan: Wellcome Trust

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