African Art
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Janiform Helmet Mask Surmounted by a Maternity Figure

mid-20th century

Wood and pigment

41 x 12 x 13 in. (104.14 x 30.48 x 33.02 cm)
Gift of Irwin A. Weiser
1974.115.9
The peoples of Ekiti and Igbomina in northeastern Yorubaland employ Epa masks in public rituals that celebrate and enhance the growth, power and general well-being of their communities. These festivals validate cultural values and political hierarchies, and honor eminent people, such as the king, farmers, warriors and diviners. A variety of Epa masks are known, each of which bears a different figural type atop its helmet. The motifs include warriors, leopards, and Ogun, the Yoruba deity of iron and war. A figure of a woman with infants is frequently referred to as olomoyeye, “owner of many children,” and is associated with fertility. She represents human achievement, while the helmet mask symbolizes the world of the dead.
Culture: 
Yoruba, Èkìti subgroup
Period: 
20th century
Classification: 
Masks
Geography: 
Made in Nigeria
Status: 
Not on view
Provenance: 

Gift of Irwin A. Weiser to Yale University Art Gallery, 1974

Note: This electronic record was created from historic documentation that does not necessarily reflect the Yale University Art Gallery’s complete or current knowledge about the object. Review and updating of such records is ongoing.