Epa headdress masks perform in biannual festivals held in Ekiti, Igbomina, and Ijesa communities of northern Yorubaland. During the Epa festival the history of a town is celebrated with the display of numerous masks. Each headdress is a memorial to the ancestors of the family that owns it. The lower, helmet-shaped portion of the mask depicts Eshu, the god who mediates between humans and other gods, while the superstructure depicts a particular individual, carved in a more naturalistic style. This Epa headdress makes dual reference to a farmer and a warrior/hunter, both essential characters in the founding and prosperity of a community. The equestrian figure conveys the warrior's military authority and its broad-brimmed hat is of a type worn by farmers as protection from the sun. Epa masks are also placed in familial shrines as objects of private devotion. The overall black encrustation of this headdress comes from repeated sacrifices and food offerings over many years.


  • Title: Epa Helmet Mask
  • Creator: Adesina Workshop
  • Location: Nigeria
  • Physical Dimensions: 41 x 14 15/16 x 12 1/2 in. (104.2 x 38 x 31.8 cm)
  • Provenance: Ex coll. William S. Arnett, United States.
  • Subject Keywords: effigy, mask, sculpture
  • Rights: © Michael C. Carlos Museum, Emory University. Photo by Bruce M. White
  • External Link: https://collections.carlos.emory.edu/objects/18771/
  • Medium: Wood, pigment
  • Art Movement: Yoruba, Ekiti region, town of Efon-Alaiye
  • Dates: early 20th Century
  • Classification: African Art

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