The Gelede Mask
A mask could have different meanings, it could be a form of disguise, or something worn over the face to hide ones identity, but there’s more to a mask. They vary in appearances, function, and also mostly used in ceremonies that have both strong and social significance. In some societies they are used for curing sicknesses, used to ward off harmful spirits, and also some secret societies use this for ritual purposes. In some African cultures during the burial ceremony, the mask is very vital, used in covering the face of the deceased the purpose being to represent the features of the deceased, and also to honor them while they establish a relationship through the mask with the spirit world, and also the mask has therapeutic uses in some cultures it is used to drive away diseases, and demons from an entire village and tribe. “GELEDE translated in English means HEADDRESS”, In addition, Gelede celebrates the importance of “Womanhood”, and also truly is a cult that always holds an annual festival every year between March and May, which represents the beginning of a new agricultural season. It takes place in the market place because the market place in the Yoruba tribe was seen as a place where the mortals and spirits gather, most importantly where women sell or trade their food stuff, the market place represents a woman’s power and presence, the market place was more like their second home even more important to them than their husbands. The Gelede mask gave reason for a festival performance to appease witches who are also known as “Mothers”, and also honor creative, and dangerous powers of elderly women, female ancestors, and goddesses all known affectionately as “Our Mothers”, in the words of authors (Drewal, Henry, John Pemberton III, and Rowland Abiodun) the power of the “Mothers” which strengthens social existence, but it may also be known for its destructive form such as the witchcraft that destroys life by...
Cited: Creary, Melissa, Fall 1997
Drewal, Henry, John Pemberton III and Rowland Abiodun. Yoruba: Nine Centuries of African Art and Thought. New York: The Center for African Art and Harry N. Abrams, Inc, 1989.
Fagg, William, and John Pemberton III. Yoruba: Sculpture of West Africa. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1982. http://www2.lib.virginia.edu/artsandmedia/artmuseum/africanart/Exhibition.html
Lawal, Babatunde. “The Gelede Spectacle” Art, Gender, and Harmony in African Culture.
Vogel, Susan M. ed. For spirits and kings, New York; Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1981.
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