Yoruba Gelede Festival Mask

The annual Gelede festival of the Yoruba of Nigeria honors the creative and mighty powers of women elders, female ancestors, and goddesses. Elderly women are affectionately referred to as ‘our mothers’ among the Yoruba people. These mothers are respected and feared for their spiritual powers that can be used either to benefit or ruin society. They can bring fertility, prosperity, health, and rain to Yorubaland but they can also bring drought and diseases. In the same way, the mothers control fertility of the land and of the people. The Gelede festival is the remedy for the communal distress that is caused when there is a drought or a threat of not having enough children. In the Gelede festivals, the dancers appease the powers of the mothers by paying tribute to them. In this way, they are activating the spiritual powers of the mothers in order to communicate and connect with the generation that is involved in the masquerade.

No other group of Yoruba masks have a greater variety than the Gelede. The Gelede cult was founded to honor the power of elderly women. During festivals, helmet masks carved in the form of a human face and often with various figures performing human activitie .

The Yoruba people reside mainly in Nigeria but are spread across to Benin. Lush forest and Savannah areas surround them. Their origins can be researched back to the end of the first millennium. Yoruba communal functioning is structured around their religious concepts and their related ritualistic societies. Yoruba spiritual devotion is so complete and powerful, that all of their important artworks are dedicated to religious ceremony in one way or another. There are three main Yoruba societies or “egbe”, one being the Gelede society. This sect is devoted to Yemoja, the mother of all orisha (angelic forces). She represents motherhood, mother of waters, family, sexuality, sorcery and nurturer.

Mid-20th century mask in fine condition, has two holders for superstructure on the sides but lacks the structural addition. Two round mirrors on the side of the mask add a spiritual feature/ door to the ancestral land. fine condition about 15″ deep by 10″ across, strong features and good detail, paint mostly worn off.

$ 550.00

Out of stock