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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
Gelede masks such as this one are worn by male Yoruba dancers. Through their movements, gelede dancers, who always dance in pairs of male and female characters, express Yoruba ideals of male and female behavior. Gelede masks are worn at festivals honoring the women of the community—living and dead. These performances are particularly aimed at appeasing the powerful Great Mothers, including both the elderly women of the community and the ancestors of Yoruba society. The Great Mothers have the capacity for bringing either great fortune or great trouble to the community if not pleased. The gelede performances entertain and 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.
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