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Yoruba Gelede society headdress, 20th c.

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Yoruba Gelede society headdress, 20th c.

Lot 0211 Details

Description
A Gelede society headdress. Nigera, Yoruba. 20th century. 7"h x 8"w x 11"d.
Provenance: Inventory and Collection from the Estate of Merton D. Simpson.
Catalog Notes: "Masks like this are worn by men in elaborate masquerade performances known as "Gelede." This ritual takes place each year between March
and May, at the beginning of a new agricultural season. The purpose of the performance is to pay tribute to the special power of women, both
elders and ancestors, who are known affectionately as "our mothers." Women can use a spiritual life force, ase, which can be creative or
destructive. When these powers are used destructively, women are called aje (witch), and, if angered, are believed to have the capacity to
destroy individuals or entire communities. The masquerade provides an opportunity for "our mothers" to be placated or pampered so that they
do not use their destructive powers against the Yoruba people; instead they encourage rain and fertile soil. The masks are worn at an angle on the top of the head, with pairs of men wearing similar masks. The masquerade has an elaborate and bulky
costume, emphasizing the breasts and buttocks of the woman it represents, showing the desired fatness of a beautiful and graceful woman. The
identity of the wearer is not secret; he can be seen through the transparent cloth worn over the face, and he can unmask in public. The name of
the dancer may be given in the song which accompanies his act, making him the subject of praise or criticism, depending on the skill and rhythm
of his performance. Drumming and singing, essential features of the performance, accompany the strictly choreographed dance. The harmony
and balance demonstrated by good dancers shape a metaphor for social perfection, where people help one another, share their wealth and
talents, and enjoy the life they have been given. The Gelede headdress often consists of two parts, a lower mask and an upper superstructure. The lower mask depicts a woman's face, its
composure expressing the qualities of calmness, patience, and "coolness" desired in women. The static expression and simplicity of this portion of the headdress contrasts with vitality and diversity of the superstructure. The design of the superstructure is intended
to placate the mothers by displaying their inner powers for all to see, thus pleasing them and ensuring the well-being of the community." See Rand African Art, "Yoruba
Gelede headdress with 3 birds - probably pigeons".
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Yoruba Gelede society headdress, 20th c.

Estimate $200 - $400
Oct 01, 2016
Starting Price $100
5 bidders watching this item
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Ships fromFalls Church, VA, United States
Quinn's Auction Galleries

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item

0211: Yoruba Gelede society headdress, 20th c.

Sold for $2,100
20 Bids
Est. $200 - $400Starting Price $100
Estate of Merton Simpson Auction Session 1
Sat, Oct 01, 2016 11:00 AM
Buyer's Premium 25%

Lot 0211 Details

Description
...
A Gelede society headdress. Nigera, Yoruba. 20th century. 7"h x 8"w x 11"d.
Provenance: Inventory and Collection from the Estate of Merton D. Simpson.
Catalog Notes: "Masks like this are worn by men in elaborate masquerade performances known as "Gelede." This ritual takes place each year between March
and May, at the beginning of a new agricultural season. The purpose of the performance is to pay tribute to the special power of women, both
elders and ancestors, who are known affectionately as "our mothers." Women can use a spiritual life force, ase, which can be creative or
destructive. When these powers are used destructively, women are called aje (witch), and, if angered, are believed to have the capacity to
destroy individuals or entire communities. The masquerade provides an opportunity for "our mothers" to be placated or pampered so that they
do not use their destructive powers against the Yoruba people; instead they encourage rain and fertile soil. The masks are worn at an angle on the top of the head, with pairs of men wearing similar masks. The masquerade has an elaborate and bulky
costume, emphasizing the breasts and buttocks of the woman it represents, showing the desired fatness of a beautiful and graceful woman. The
identity of the wearer is not secret; he can be seen through the transparent cloth worn over the face, and he can unmask in public. The name of
the dancer may be given in the song which accompanies his act, making him the subject of praise or criticism, depending on the skill and rhythm
of his performance. Drumming and singing, essential features of the performance, accompany the strictly choreographed dance. The harmony
and balance demonstrated by good dancers shape a metaphor for social perfection, where people help one another, share their wealth and
talents, and enjoy the life they have been given. The Gelede headdress often consists of two parts, a lower mask and an upper superstructure. The lower mask depicts a woman's face, its
composure expressing the qualities of calmness, patience, and "coolness" desired in women. The static expression and simplicity of this portion of the headdress contrasts with vitality and diversity of the superstructure. The design of the superstructure is intended
to placate the mothers by displaying their inner powers for all to see, thus pleasing them and ensuring the well-being of the community." See Rand African Art, "Yoruba
Gelede headdress with 3 birds - probably pigeons".

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