- Label Text
- Gelede is a masquerade to honor and placate the “mothers,” incarnate forces of thwarted fertility and spiritual power who are less diplomatically referred to as witches. Although men, appearing in pairs, dance these masks, many gelede masks, including this example, depict women. It was meant to flatter the “mothers” by showing an attractive woman, with an elaborate crown hairstyle. Other masks depict satiric or genre characters such as the prostitute, the diviner or the Islamic northerner (the latter two represented in the museums collection). Still others have elaborate superstructures with figures of devotees, animals, exaggerated head ties (a woman's head covering) or even palm trees.
- Gelede masks are worn like caps and tilted at a 45-degree angle on the forehead. The sculptor takes this angle into account when carving the mask. The lines of this mask with its row hairstyle emphasize this required structure.
- White-faced cap mask depicting a female with an elaborate coiffure composed of raised, darkened rows gathered together in a top knot.
- Drs. James J. and Gladys Witt Strain, Riverdale, New York, early 1990s to 2011
- Marilyn Houlberg, collected prior to 1969
- Data Source
- National Museum of African Art
- Yoruba artist
- Mid 20th century
- Credit Line
- Gift of Doctors James J. and Gladys Witt Strain in honor of Deborah Stokes
- Wood, pigment
- H x W x D: 20 x 18 x 34 cm (7 7/8 x 7 1/16 x 13 3/8 in.)