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Yoruba Gelede Mask With Animals Nigeria African Art

Product #: 127147
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Title Yoruba Gelede Mask With Animals Nigeria African Art
Type of Object Mask
Country of Origin Nigeria
People Yoruba
Materials Wood, Pigment
Approximate Age 20th Century
Dimensions Height: 13 Inches
Width: 11 Inches
Depth: 12 Inches
Overall Condition Good
Damage/Repair Repairs to top animals

Additional Information: A mask in the form of a human face with scarification patterns on each cheek. An intricate connection of animals adornes the top of this mask, painted in multiple bright colors, with two hanging appendages. 

Among the Yoruba Gelede masks dance of the ‘mothers’, good witches who propitiate and control the power of the ‘bad’ witches who fly at night causing human misfortune, illness, and death.  When Gelede appear, they dance in pairs in a tightly structured and complexly choreographed dance accompanied by singing and drumming.  Most ‘witch-catching’ Gelede masks are carved from a single piece of wood to be worn on the top of the head over the forehead with a multi-colored costume made up of numerous panels of brightly colored cloth completely covering the body from head to foot.  The panels of cloth will flare outwards while being danced giving the dancer a dynamic appearance.  Gelede performances may extend over a number of days with different dance forms and movements.  When performing the masks dance as a coordinated pair often with mirror-like movements during in an athletic and vigorous dance that often interacts with the audience.  Their energetic dance steps will often kick up the dust so that they appear to float above the earth and the anklet bells that they wear reinforce the rhythm of the music.  Gelede masks will also reflect local traditions of facial marking and symbolic headdress whereas this example brings to mind the beautiful and classic sculpted heads of ancient Ife. 

Recommended Reading:

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

Drewal, H. J. and M. Thompson Drewal., Gelede, Art and Female Power among the Yoruba. 1983.

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

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

Mato, D., Chelsea Cooksey, Yoruba: Art of Life. The Bennett-Luther Collection, Denver 2004 

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