There are two main elements to this mask; the
lower portion or helmet, which fits over the
dancer's head, and the upper superstructure in
the shape of a woman with a child on her back.
The breasts are prominent and the stomach
protruding to suggest fertility. Eyes and ears can
be seen on the helmet; which is always carved in
an abstract depiction of a human face.
Traditionally, ancestral power is thought to be
ritually associated with the helmet section of the
mask. At the heart of the Epa festival is a
masquerade involving three distinctive masks.
After the ones representing the warrior and
herbalist/priest have finished their dance, the
Eyelase or "Mother-Who-Possesses-Power"
makes her appearance. A woman's power is
treated with respect and awe; she is the cohesive
element that holds society together, the “vessel”
where the physical body comes into contact with
the mysterious forces of the universe, and the
divine life force. When this mask appears she is
immediately seen as a living metaphor for joining
the most crucial aspects of society together--
family, ancestors and the community. This
remarkable and extremely rare mask may be
seen as the antecedent to present day Epa
masquerade masks. As such, it is a direct and
tangible link to the distant past, commemorating
through its great age the Epa festival, which
honors its ancestors through an ancient ritual
that joins the past with the present.