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Title: Double Mask for the Gelede Society
Date: mid to late 19th century
Artist: Unidentified Yoruba artist
Artist: attributed to Eshubyi workshop
Medium: wood, pigment, and traces of indigo
Dimensions:
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
Object Number: 67:1995
Place associated: Abeokuta, Ogun state, Nigeria
Current Location: On View, Gallery 117
Notes:
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.
Provenance
- 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

1995-
Saint Louis Art Museum, purchased from Alexander Gallery, Inc. [1]


Notes:
[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.
Exhibition History
Title: African Highlights (2008)
Date: July 2008 - October 2009
Venue: Saint Louis Art Museum
Title: Masks: Faces of Culture
Date: October 9, 1999 - September 17, 2000
Venue: Museum of Fine Arts, Houston
Venue: The Field Museum
Venue: Saint Louis Art Museum
Publication History
Title: Masks: Faces of Culture
Year Published: 1999
Title: The Cover
Periodical Title: Journal of the American Medical Association
Edition: December 11
Year Published: 1996
Title: Saint Louis Art Museum: Handbook of the Collection
Editor: Mary Ann Steiner
Publisher: Saint Louis Art Museum
Title: African Art in American Collections
Year Published: 1988
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