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Yoruba Beaded Tunic with Cowries and Amulets Nigeria African Art

Regular Price: $590.00

Special Price: $199.00

Product #: 111163
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Title Yoruba Beaded Tunic with Cowries and Amulets Nigeria African Art
Type of Object Tunic, garment, Jacket , hunting jacket
Country of Origin Nigeria
People Yoruba
Materials Beads, cotton cloth, cowrie shells, gourds
Approximate Age 2007
Dimensions Height: 19 Inches
Width: 24 Inches
head hole is 7 inches diameter
Overall Condition Good. Most of our pieces have spent decades on at least two continents, and have been treasured by several owners. Small splits, scrapes and cracks are a normal part of their patina attesting to their age and extensive use. We examine each piece carefully when we receive it and report any damage we find in our listings. Please look carefully at the pictures which may also reveal condition and damage.
Damage/Repair dirt, stains, broken shells and gourds still attached. holes in fabric, encrustation


From the collection of Howard Gelb, St. Paul, MN collector of African Art, who was also a businessman, lawyer, and philanthropist. Mr. Gelb died in 2015, at the age of 96.

Additional Information: A stunning beaded Tunic from the Yoruba people. Lining is handwoven cotton fabric. The exterior is heavily adorned with shells and gourds and other amulets.  These beaded tunics were made to be worn only by chiefs and Shango priests. A huge garment, extraordinarily heavy, heavily beaded on both sides with glass beads. An elaborate multi-clor tunic covered with glass beads and decorated with schematic human faces, elephants, and geometric motifs.

Such tunics were worn by shango priests during festivals, and at possession ceremonies. They are also known as diviner's vests. Divination (Ifa) plays and important role in the lives of the Yoruba determine their actions or explaining misfortunes. Colors and designs on this tunic play significant symbolic roles among the Yoruba people of Nigeria. Yellow and green beads are associated with Ifa, black and white beads with Eshu, red (orange here) and white beads are associated with  Orisha Shango. The blue is associated to the royalties. The significance of geometric motifs, lizards, snakes and human designs on this tunic is to be found in the mythology and Yoruba believes (see Daniel Mato & Chelsea Cooksey. Yoruba: An Art of Life, p.27, fig. 10)

Recommended Reading:


R. F. Thompson: Black Gods and Kings: Yoruba Art at UCLA, (Los Angeles, 1971)

W. Fagg and J. Pemberton III: Yoruba Sculpture of West Africa, (New York, 1982)

H. J. Drewal and J. Pemberton III, with R. Abiodun Yoruba: Nine Centuries of African Art and Thought, (New York, 1989)

Lawal, B.: The Gelede Spectacle. Art, Gender, and Social Harmony in an African Culture. (Seattle, London 1996)

Witte, H.: A Closer Look; Local Styles in the Yoruba Art Collection of the Afrika Museum, Berg en Dal. 2004.

 Daniel Mato, PhD. and Chelsea Cooksey, Yoruba: An Art of Life. The Benneth-Luther Collection, Africa Direct, 2004