Lot 183
  • 183

Yoruba Epa Helmet Mask by Bamgboye, the Alaga of Odo-Owa (ca. 1895-1978), Ekiti, Nigeria

30,000 - 50,000 USD
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  • wood
  • Height: 63 inches (160 cm)


Collected by Gert Stoll in Nigeria in the 1960s
Galerie Schwarz-Weiss, Osnabrück
Roswitha von Bergmann, Düsseldorf
Neumeister, Munich, November 11, 2004, lot 322, consigned by the above
Dr. Karl-Ferdinand Schaedler, Munich, acquired at the above auction


Neumeister, Munich, Afrikanische Masken & Werke aus dem Nachlass der Galerie Heinz Herzer, June 18 - July 29, 2007


Neumeister, Afrikanische Masken & Werke aus dem Nachlass der Galerie Heinz Herzer, Munich, 2007, pp. 44-45
Karl-Ferdinand Schaedler, Encyclopedia of African Art and Culture, Munich, 2009, p. 66

Catalogue Note

The Yoruba artist Bamgboye (ca. 1895-1978), titled Chief Alaga of Odo-Owa, Ekiti, was one of the most highly celebrated carvers of his generation.  Pemberton notes (in Fagg, Pemberton, and Holcombe 1989: 188): "Throughout the ninety years of his life, the master carver Bamgboye, Chief Alaga of Odo-Owa, carved a number of stunning masks for the epa festivals of northern Ekiti towns.  Arowogun, Bamgboshe, and Oshamuko, carvers in the neighboring town of Osi-Ilorin, only just equalled his craftmanship and artistic imagination, yet none exceeded him in the creation of the complex architectural sculptures that surmounted the janus-faced helmet masks."  Drewal notes (1989: 195): "The size of his sculptures and the organization of so many figures in relationship to one another and to the great central figure give his sculptures an architectural quality rivaled only by Areogun of Osi Ilorin."

This spectacular and monumental Epa helmet mask, with its astonishingly diverse and complex array of figures and forms, is a superb example of the sculptural virtuosity for which Bamgboye was famous.  Related examples of Bamgboye's Epa masks are in the National Museum for African Art, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C. (inv. no. "2001-20-1"), the Detroit Institute of Arts (inv. no. "77.71") and the Cleveland Museum of Art (inv. no. "1991.165").