Skip to main content

Helmet Mask

Oduntan Aina , Yoruba
early–mid-20th century
Wood, pigment, fiber
Made in
Sawonjo, Ogun state, Western Africa and the Guinea Coast, Nigeria, Africa
Costume & clothing, masks
Current Location
On View, Gallery 117
13 1/2 x 10 1/8 x 8 11/16 in. (34.3 x 25.7 x 22 cm)
Credit Line
Museum Shop Fund
Public Domain
Object Number
This mask represents twins. Gelede masks such as this portray all sorts of characters in the community and are performed by male dancers at festivals honoring women. Twins and their mothers are especially revered in Yorubaland; the Yoruba have among the highest per capita occurrence of twin births in the world. Gelede performances are particularly aimed at appeasing the powerful Great Mothers, including both elderly women of the community and the ancestors of Yoruba society. The Great Mothers may bring either great fortune or great trouble to the community if not pleased. Gelede performances entertain, educate, and document elements of everyday life.
- 1977
Merton D. Simpson Gallery, New York, NY, USA

1977 -
Stuart Hollander, St. Louis, MO, purchased from Merton D. Simpson Gallery

- 1995
Alexander Gallery, Inc., St. Louis, MO, purchased from Stuart Hollander

Saint Louis Art Museum, purchased from Alexander Gallery, Inc. [1]

[1] An invoice dated June 12, 1995 from Alexander Gallery, Inc. to the Saint Louis Art Museum documents the purchase of this object, listed as "Yoruba 'Gelede' Mask, Nigeria, wood, brown patina, traces indigo." The invoice identifies this object was "ex. coll. Stuart Hollander, St. Louis / purchased: Merton D. Simpson Gallery NYC 1977" [SLAM document files]. Minutes of the Collections Committee of the Board of Trustees, Saint Louis Art Museum, June 19, 1995.
Scroll back to top