Showcasing the art and ritual of the African and African-diaspora religions

Gẹlẹdẹ mask #1

Catalog Number: D003


25.4 cm tall, 30.48 cm wide, 33.02 cm long


10" tall, 12" wide, 13" long


Religion and Denomination: Yoruba indigenous religion (Yoruba)
Country of Origin: Nigeria
Ethnographic Origin: Yoruba
Date of Manufacture: 07/1983
Usage: N/A
Detailed Description of Significance:

The face on the mask is intended to represent that of a beautiful woman, in order to flatter witches and thus influence them to use their powers for the benefit of Gẹlẹdẹ society members, rather than to their detriment. The top of the mask delineates wild animals, including a snake wrapped about the headdress and a warthog with red eyes. These wild animals represent the power of the witches and their uncontrollable nature. The natural world can, just like the powers of witches, help or harm people. On the back of the mask, there is the figure of a hunter, who is either driving away or controlling the animals. This represents the intention of the wearer, who hopes to deflect the malicious magic of the witches or else to influence them to  use it only to benefit the wearer. The mask bears scarifications on the cheeks of the face, which are common symbols of family and town affiliation in  Yorubaland, and a further sign of the beauty of the face depicted in the mask.