Yoruba Wooden Polychrome Gelede Mask - PF.5405
Origin: Southwestern Nigeria
Circa: 20th Century AD
Dimensions: 16.5" (41.9cm) high x 10.5" (26.7cm) wide
Catalogue: V27
Collection: African
Style: Yoruba
Medium: Wood and Mixed Media

A highly elongated head and coiffure is characteristic of the Gelede mask. This very fine Gelede rests on a tubular cushion done in a plaid pattern, to which the mask is attached, as well as two pairs of iron bells and two rings of cowrie shells. Paint was used to highlight certain facial features, with black on the tip of the nose, on the lips and eyes. A rich blue accentuates the two pairs of three vertical slashes scarifying the cheeks. An elaborate coiffure is composed of a central crest and five striated horizontal bands on either side. The bulging eyes indicate that a person is possessed by a spirit. Such masks as this one are used by the Gelede, a men’s association who hold their principal festival at planting time. It is then they perform beautifully choreographed dance sequences called Eka, appearing as identical pairs. The artistry of this mask is so powerful it brings alive a mysterious ritual of men who dance in honor of the special powers of women. - (PF.5405)