This is a wonderful African Red and Green Painted Wood Yoruba Gelede Helmet Mask from the people of Southwestern Nigeria. The Gelede form has a large bulging eyes and subtle scarification on the cheeks and forehead accompanied by the round forehead. Gelede masks are often decorated with animals or other motifs on top; this one has an abstract hat. The Yoruba are known to apply colorful pigments to the facial features, too. Red, green and blue pigments are applied in layers. This mask is danced as part of an ornate Engungun costume. Among the Yoruba Gelede, this mask is danced for the ‘mothers’, good witches who propitiate and control the power of the ‘bad’ witches who fly at night causing human misfortune, illness, and death. When Gelede appear, they dance in pairs in a tightly structured and complexly choreographed dance accompanied by singing and drumming. Most ‘witch-catching’ Gelede masks are carved from a single piece of wood to be worn on the top of the head over the forehead with a multicolored costume made up of numerous panels of brightly colored cloth completely covering the body from head to foot. The panels of cloth will flare outwards while being danced giving the dancer a dynamic appearance. Gelede performances may extend over a number of days with different dance forms and movements. When performing, these masks dance a coordinated pair often with mirror-like movements during in an athletic and vigorous dance that often interacts with the audience. Their energetic dance steps will often kick up the dust so that they appear to float above the earth and the anklet bells that they wear reinforce the rhythm of the music. Gelede masks will also reflect local traditions of facial marking and symbolic headdress. This helmet mask would be a wonderful addition to your collection or home.
COMES ON STAND
Shows age, loss of paint, but overall in good condition.
15" tall on Stand
8 1/2" tall
6 1/2" wide
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