Gelede mask - 2010.45.37_1


Gelede mask

Maker: Ganyu
Medium:Wood, pigment
Geography: Meko, Nigeria
Date: 1968
39 x 30.5 x 35 cm
Object number: 2010.45.37
Credit Line: The Jack Lieber Collection of Yoruba Art.
Not on view

Gelede masks are used in performances that celebrate the power of women. Among the Yoruba of Nigeria, women are believed to have equal or greater power than gods or ancestors. The Gelede spectacles are highly elaborate events which include dancing, drumming, chanting, and masquerade performances. They are meant to both entertain the bystanders and the spirits of the "mothers", who can bring great fortune or harm to the community. Gelede masquerades are usually danced in pairs. The wooden headdresses represent specific characters and often contain references to specific moral teachings or symbols. This particular mask represents the struggle between a snake and a cock, which takes place in the presence of two waiting alligators. This seemingly unresolvable struggle recalls the tension between different goals and aspirations that characterizes the human condition.

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