Tribal art > African mask > Yoruba mask
Epa Ekiti Yoruba mask (N° 20846)
The Ekiti of the eastern part of the Yoruba region use polychrome helm masks illustrating the prosperity of the community. Our example consists of a helmet mask on which are erected animal figures carved in the round. These rams symbolize strength and fertility. These masks, which have been painted by their owners, are brought out every two years. Despite the weight of the masks, the dancers perform spectacular acrobatic demonstrations. These ceremonies are also supposed to increase fertility. Polychrome crusty patina. Cracks and erosions.
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The Yoruba, more than 20 million, occupy southwestern Nigeria and the central and southeastern region of Benin under the name Nago. They are patrilineal, practice excision and circumcision. The kingdoms of Oyo and Ijebu arose following the demise of the Ife civilization and still form the basis of the Yoruba political structure. The Oyo created two cults centered on the Egungun and Sango societies, still active, which worship a pantheon of gods, the Orisa , through ceremonies involving masks, statuettes, scepters, and divination media. The slave trade helped spread Yoruba beliefs across continents.
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