Gelede mask - ROM2008_9801_40


Gelede mask

Maker: Unidentified Yoruba maker
Medium:Wood, pigment
Geography: Republic of Benin
Date: early 20th century, collected before 1920
27.3 x 39.4 cm
Object number: 924.9.76
Credit Line: M.A. Leblond Collection of African Carvings
On view
Gallery Location:Shreyas and Mina Ajmera Gallery of Africa, the Americas and Asia-Pacific
DescriptionEvery spring when the rains arrive, the Yoruba community conducts a cultural performance known as Gelede to honor and placate the 'mothers', through recognizing their spirtual power and immense influence over the community's well-being. The term 'mothers', refers to a group which includes female ancestors and deities, as well as elderly women within the society. This is an afternoon Gelede mask, which make explicit reference to daily Yoruba life and often depict market women, clerics, foreigners, and everyday characters. Individuals commission Gelede masks to contribute to the honoring of the mothers', and often tell the carver what to depict. Gelede masks often dance in pairs, so two friends or family members often choose the same motif. This mask is near identical  to another in our collection, which allows us to infer they were commissioned and danced together. Although Gelede masks are worn by men, the elaborate white and blue headband indicates that the figure depicted is a female.
Global Africa
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