The Epa-type mask is the largest mask carved from a single piece of wood in Africa. The mask is divided into two parts. The mask that covers the face is carved like a mortar or pot and often has a face at the front and one looking backwards. Above the mask covering the face, a large carved superstructure is common. The masks generally represent one of three types; the mounted warrior, the mother with children and the healer. The superstructure may refer to the historical conditions of Ekiti, when warfare and slave raiding affected many villages.
This mask was carved in the late 19th century in the town of Ila Orangun. The carving is a fine example of the Olawoniyi lineage carving style, probably by the carver Baagunjoko (1800–1870) or Fakeye Akobi Ogun (1870–1946), grandfather of the renowned carver Lamidi Fakeye.
In the process of developing the John Randle Centre, its curators have researched some fascinating stories associated with Yoruba culture. Read on for some examples.