Yoruba Gelede Helmet Mask

c. 1950
$1,880 USD
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W: 11.75" D: 12.75" H: 12.5"
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This helmet mask was created by the Yoruba peoples of western Nigeria, and was worn during a tradition known as Gelede. A blend of ritual and artistic spectacle, Gelede pays homage to the women of their community, understood to possess spiritual powers capable of the benefit or the destruction of society. The Gelede masquerade is an opportunity to honor or condemn behaviors within the community, through dance, art, satire, and poetry. Worn by veiled dancers, each Gelede mask depicts a composed female face, exuding calmness and patience. Above this face is a superstructure offering social commentary or honoring individuals in the group. Here a pair of women hold out an offering bowl before a coiled python, perhaps in reference to the powers of ifa divination. Beautifully detailed, and richly textured with a smooth patina, this mask is a stunning example of Yoruba art and a captivating work of sculpture.

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