(Nigerian, ca. 1885-1975)
Wood and paint
Overall: 137.2 cm (54 in.)
John L. Severance Fund and Gift of Mary Price 1991.165
Performing this Epa mask was an impressive feat of strength; it weighs nearly 45 pounds!
Carved from a single block of wood and weighing about 50 pounds, this stunning example of Bamgboye’s complex style was carved when the artist was in his late twenties while living in Omu in his native Ilorin Province. Epa masks were performed during an annual or biannual week-long festival. This mask appeared at the festival’s climactic conclusion. The elaborate superstructure revolves around the figure of a richly adorned ruler on horseback carrying a sword and wearing protective amulets on his arms. Three tiers of surrounding small-scale attendants—including messengers, musicians, warriors, and praise singers—represent a scene of court life in miniature, and testify to the warrior-king’s power and prestige.
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