Recently I noticed this large and beautifully painted piece on eBay. The copy said “Authentic Yoruba Epa mask. Expertly refurbished & lovingly restored. Tribally used. No cracks, scratches or breaks. Impeccably repaired. Used by the Ekiti Yoruba of Southwestern Nigeria during their annual Epa festival.” I was amazed to see an Epa mask in such pristine condition. 569
Wikipedia says “An Epa is a ceremonial mask worn by the Yoruba people of Nigeria during the Epa masquerade. Carvings representing priests, hunters, farmers, kings, and mothers are usually depicted on the masks. They are used to acknowledge important roles within the community, and to honor those who perform the roles, as well as ancestors who performed those roles in the past. When not being used during performances, Epa masks are kept in shrines where they are the focus of prayers and offerings from community elders.”
We never get to see Epa masks looking as good as this carefully restored example. They are usually quite rough with much paint missing. Ironically, this worn-out look is sometimes done on purpose to satisfy the tastes of collectors who prefer to exhibit old and used items. Here we see the opposite happening. I love seeing masks that look their best.