YORUBA MASK, OLOJUFOFORO
Probably by Ajere Elewa of Epe, Northeastern Yorubaland, Nigeria
73 cm. high
Museum Rietberg, Zu¨rich, "Die Kunst der Yoruba. Skulpturen aus Nigeria", 6 November 1991-8 March 1992
Villa Stuck, Munich, "Gods Spirits Ancestors, African sculpture from private German collections", 28 October 1992-10 January 1993
Stoll, M. and G., "Yoruba-Plastiken aus Privatsammlung Stoll", 1970
Schaedler, K.-F., "African Art in Private German Collections", Munich, 1973, p.178, fig.240.
Homberger, L. (Ed.)," Yoruba Art and Aesthetics", Zurich, 1991, p.65, fig.78.
Schaedler, K.-F., "Gods Spirits Ancestors, African Sculpture from private German Collections", Munich, 1993, p.119, fig.89.
Schaedler, K.-F., "Encyclopedia of African Art and Culture", Munich, 2009, p.483.
The present mask appears to be one of a group of three similar masks by the same carver. One in the Walt Disney-Tishman collection in the National Museum of African Art, Washington, D.C. is illustrated in "African Vision: The Walt Disney-Tishman African Art Collection", Washington, D.C., 2007, p.49, no.13. The other, in a private collection, is illustrated in Schaedler, K.-F., "African Art in Private German Collections", Munich, 1973, p.177, no.239. Writing of the Tishman mask (in "For Spirits and Kings: African Art from the Paul and Ruth Tishman Collection", 1981, p.121) Kevin Carroll states that the mask was identified by two carvers at Osi, the central village of the Opin Ekiti clan, as "oloyiya", one of a group of three Epa masks that appeared together. The masks belonged to the Are family and appeared during the funeral rites of the "oba" of Osi and members of the Are family. Oloyiya means “the owner of combs” and the present mask, along with the two others cited, all feature combs in their superstructures. Carroll goes on to say that the wearer of the mask carries a cape of fresh palm fronds and looks through the windows under the eyes. The Tishman mask has been attributed to Ajere Elewa of Epe, an Opin Village near Osi, and it seems highly probable that all three masks are by the same hand.