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African Art
Artist: Areogun-Yanna of Osi-llorin, Yoruba, 1880–1954

Mask, “The Owner of the Deep Set Eyes” (Olójú Foforo), Surmounted by a Figure of the Priestess of the Goddess Òsun

early to mid-20th century

Wood, pigment, string, and fiber

37 × 14 5/8 × 6 5/16 in. (93.98 × 37.1 × 16 cm)
Charles B. Benenson, B.A. 1933, Collection
This mask, called Oloju Foforo, meaning “the Owner of the Deep-Set Eyes,” was named in recognition of its features. This type of mask is unique to the Ekiti subgroup, appearing during the Ijeshu festival to honor the god and ancestor of the town of Osi-Ilorin. The carver of this mask, Areogun, was a master who passed his techniques on to his son, Bandele, along with his specialized tools. His full name, meaning “one who gets money with the tools of Ogun and spends it liberally,” was given to him in praise of his talent. Ogun is the god of those who use iron tools, whom Areogun honored with a shrine. The goddess Oshun reigns over the river at the town of Oshogbo.
Osi-Ilorin, Èkìti, Guinea Coast, Nigeria
On view
Yorùbá, Èkìti subgroup
20th century

Photographed by William Buller Fagg (1914-1992) in Osi in 1959. Charles B. Benenson Collection, Greenwich, Conn; Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, Conn.


Kevin Carroll, Yoruba Religious Carving: Pagan and Christian Sculpture in Nigeria and Dahomey (London: Geoffrey Chapman Ltd., 1967), vii, 83, 163, fig. 66.

Frederick John Lamp, “Charles Benenson and His Legacy of African Art to Yale,” Yale University Art Gallery Bulletin (2004): 31, ill.

“Acquisitions, July 1, 2005–June 30, 2006,” Yale University Art Gallery Bulletin (2006): 222–23, ill.

Art for Yale: Collecting for a New Century, exh. cat. (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Art Gallery, 2007), 176, pl. 159.

Frederick John Lamp, Amanda Maples, and Laura M. Smalligan, Accumulating Histories: African Art from the Charles B. Benenson Collection at the Yale University Art Gallery (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Art Gallery, 2012), 211, ill.

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.