Instead of looking at how this item was acquired and by whom, we’re going to explore how this item was used and what it meant to the communities who continue to use it in festivals. Epa is the name given to a specific system of religious worship; a sacred society within Yoruba culture. It is also known by its alternative name, Elefon. This particular faith can be found in Ekiti state, SW Nigeria. Worship includes masquerade with dancers wearing decorated headdresses that are carved out of singular blocks of wood and weighing as much as 30 kilograms. The dancer wearing this hefty superstructure on top of their head are demonstrating their strength and prowess – the dance becomes a test of endurance. Epa masquerade celebrates the continuity of tradition and is authorised by the king. These masks are dedicated to the great Ekiti carver Oleko, who created the first Epa mask of its kind. When worn in procession, the mask honours important Ekiti ancestors – one can see this by examining the rich carving of a central kneeling female form flanked by a smaller adult female figure on either side. Her central and large presence signifies her role. This specific kneeling form represents an act of supplication, where its appearance is intended to appease the gods. When not in use, these masks are displayed inside temples where they become the focus of more personal ceremonies. Collected by Lieutenant Colonel William Hamilton Broun circa 1899. Height = 950mm.