DescriptionYoruba (Nigeria or Benin, Western Africa)
Mask for Gelede association
Height: 12 inches
Gelede masks are performed in the southern areas of Yorubaland in order to appease the power wielded by female elders, ancestors, and deities. Male dancers don the elaborate cap masks and obscure their faces behind cloths during performances held at different points in the year.
This mask evidences considerable use and subsequent damage. Vertical cracks are apparent on the proper right of the face as well as a hole on the crown of the head. The pigment which would have originally covered the surface is completely worn away. The face is well carved and shows elements of scarification on the cheeks. The head is topped by an elaborate braided coiffure with a zigzagging openwork crest. A good old example.
Benjamin Bernstein collection, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
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