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Gelede Headdress, Yoruba People, Nigeria, circa 1950s

About

Gelede festivals honor the creative and dangerous power of women elders, female ancestors and goddesses known as "our mothers". The Gelede headdress often consists of two parts, a lower mask and an upper elaborate superstructure. The lower mask depicts a woman's face, it's composure expressing the qualities of calmness and patience. The static expression and simplicity of this part 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. Gelede artists demonstrate their artistry and mastery of the medium by developing complex imagery within the confines of the basic cylindrical mass of wood. The elaborately carved examples, painted in bright colors, exhibit many different forms and angles to view, as the dancer moves before his admiring audience. The numbers are the inventory numbers from Penn State University and Lehigh University. Exhibited: The Pennsylvania State University - Museum of Art permanent collection; The Lehigh University - Art Galleries permanent collection. Provenance: The collection of Dr and Mrs John E. Swanson. Dr John Swanson and his wife Marian lived from 1966 - 1981 in Lagos, Nigeria where Dr Swanson was the Advisor to the National Universities Commission and later on the Chief Planning Officer of the University of Ibadan, Nigeria. During their time in Africa the Swansons started to collect African art. In 1973 a part of their collection, circa 120 pieces went on loan to The Pennsylvania State University Museum of Art, where the remained until 1978. In 1981 Dr Swanson passed away and his wife Marian never returned to Africa. In 1982 Mrs Swanson lent 130 pieces to the Lehigh University Art Gallery where they remained until 1987. A few pieces were also lent to Lafayette College - Williams Art Center for an exhibition titled "Plainly Geometric - Selections of Art from West Africa". In 2018 Mrs Swanson passed away.

Details

  • Condition
    Excellent.
  • Wear
    Wear consistent with age and use.
  • Dimensions

    H 20.75 in. x W 9.25 in. x D 15 in.

    H 52.71 cm x W 23.5 cm x D 38.1 cm

  • Seller location
    Westport, CT
  • Reference number
    LU1451210799203

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