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Face mask  (epa oloyiya, oloju foforo)
Date: Late 19th to mid-20th century
Medium: Wood, pigment
Dimensions: H x W x D: 69.7 x 38.5 x 13 cm (27 7/16 x 15 3/16 x 5 1/8 in.)
Credit Line: Gift of Walt Disney World Co., a subsidiary of The Walt Disney Company
Geography: Opin, Ekiti region, Nigeria
Object Number: 2005-6-77
Search Terms:
female
Funerary
Exhibited: Visionary: Viewpoints on Africa's Arts

One of the names for this mask is oloju foforo, which means "the owner of the deep-set eyes" and refers to the holes through which the wearer sees. It is also called epa oloyiya, or "owner of combs." Projections from the head hold symbolic value for the Yoruba. The combs on this mask may serve as symbols of the life force inherent in all living things as well as a mark of honor to a Yoruba woman's spiritual self or inner head. This type of mask is unique to a dozen villages populated by the Opin Yoruba clan in the northeast region of Yorubaland. According to field informants, it was one of three epa masks that belonged to one family and appeared during the funerals for the family and the local ruler.

Wood face mask with square cut out viewing eyes below the oval carved eyes. Triangular projections form a flange around the side of the face with two rows of seven combs (three front, four back) projecting from the top of the head. Overall remains of red pigment and white dots.

Visionary: Viewpoints on Africa's Arts, National Museum of African Art, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C., November 4, 2017-ongoing



The Walt Disney-Tishman African Art Collection Highlights, National Museum of African Art, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C., May 21, 2009-June 4, 2014



African Vision: The Walt Disney-Tishman African Art Collection, National Museum of African Art, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C., February 15, 2007-March 31, 2009



First Look: The Walt Disney-Tishman Collection of African Art, National Museum of African Art, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C., May 17-December 3, 2006



For Spirits and Kings: African Art from the Paul and Ruth Tishman Collection, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 1981


Kreamer, Christine Mullen. 2006. "African Vision: The Walt Disney-Tishman African Art Collection." Tribal Arts 43, p. 85, no. 10.



Kreamer, Christine Mullen, Bryna Freyer and Andrea Nicolls. 2007. African Vision: The Walt Disney-Tishman African Art Collection. Washington, D.C.: National Museum of African Art, Smithsonian Institution, pp. 48-49, no. 13.



Vogel, Susan (ed). 1981. For Spirits and Kings: African Art from the Paul and Ruth Tishman Collection. New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art, pp. 120-121, no. 65.


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