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Art Gallery the Eye and the Hand
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Gelede mask, Yoruba, Nigeria

€ 22,000.00
Gelede mask
Yoruba, Nigeria
Wood, black pigment

Yoruba masks, and particularly masks gèlèdè, emanate from societies characterised at the same time by unit and diversity around a common origin :the city of Ilé-Ifé, where Yoruba thinks that the first man appeared.The most part of Yoruba lived in Nigeria, where they constitute the biggest urban civilisation of Western Africa, but are present on all Africain continent, where they constitute cores tied to their origins.It explains the cultural diversity of groups, which invented a new identity according to their migrations.  

The society of gelede is organised around the "mothers" and meets at night.The "mothers" are then supposed to be transformed into birds and to be invited by souls to examine the possible problems of the society.Although they are exclusively carried by men, it is by and for the women that manifest themselves masks gèlèdè.Ordered by a woman, it is in the women that contacts their dance.They can also serve for welcoming the political authorities, for treating problems in a more individual way, and for distracting.  

Features of the gelede mask are underlined by scarifications on cheeks and forehead, characteristic of yoruba civilisation, which counts dozens varieties.The present type of scarification on this mask is called abaja.The wood chosen to be the manufacture of gèlèdè is a clear and light wood.Once sculpted, masks are coated with invisible substances by ancient, guarantors of the protection of the community.They are kept out of the view of the non-initiating, often above the home, the smoke of which has protective virtues.They can be used during about fifty years before being replaced.  

Gelede masks are of a very big diversity :simple head with plaited hair, or combed of a hat, a scarf sometimes overcome of a load or a stage fixed with tops or ankles.All masks have protruding eyes, pierced in the centre and delimited by hemmed eyelids.The nose, slightly Roman, introduces rounded off bones. Here the deep scarifications of the face and largeness of the hairstyle contrast with the delicacy of the hairstyle and of the lines of the mouth with the delicately hemmed lips. 

J.Rivallain and F.A. Iroko, Yoruba.Masques et rituels africains, Paris, Hazan, on 2000

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