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Efe Headdress (Gelede Mask with Superstructure)

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unknown Yoruba
Yoruba Primary

Efe Headdress (Gelede Mask with Superstructure)

Early 20th century
Wood with paint

15 1/4 in. x 14 in. x 15 1/4 in. (38.74 cm x 35.56 cm x 38.74 cm)

Bryn Mawr College
Accession Number: 99.5.60
Other Number(s): 82-29 (Neufeld Collection Number)
Geography: Africa, Nigeria
Classification: Ceremonial and Performance Artifacts; Masks
Culture/Nationality: Yoruba, Nigerian, West African, African
Collection: Neufeld Collection
Description: Oro Efe, a great male leader of the Gelede Society in Nigeria, is a servant to the Mothers of the society and embodies physical and supernatural power, position, and spiritual authority. As part of the Oro Efe masquerade, performers sing songs that are described as humorous and sarcastic, but are filled with ashe, or power. The songs act as invocations to the gods, bringing forth the teachings of the ancestors and Our Mothers. The humor and sarcasm are also used to shame those who have gone outside of the established norms.

Keywords Click a term to view the records with the same keyword
This object has the following keywords:
  • African - Refers to the cultures of the continent of Africa, which is bounded by the Atlantic Ocean, the Indian Ocean, and the Mediterranean Sea.
  • carvings - Refers to works executed by cutting a figure or design out of a solid material such as stone or wood. It typically refers to works that are relatively small in size, are part of a larger work, or are not considered art. For large and medium-sized three-dimensional works of art, use the broader term "sculpture" or another appropriate term.
  • Gelede - Masquerades held by the secret society named Gelede of the Yoruba people of West Africa, performed by masked, costumed dancers, often impersonating women, for the purpose of placating the older women of the community and encouraging them to use their powers for community well-being; they are held when society members die, and during the society's annual festival, on the afternoon following the nightlong performance of the Efe masquerade.
  • masks - Refers to coverings for all or part of the face, usually with openings for the eyes and sometimes the mouth. They are worn to hide or alter the identity of the wearer or for protection. Masks as cultural objects have been used throughout the world in all periods since the Stone Age. Masks are extremely varied in appearance, function, and fundamental meaning. They may be associated with ceremonies that have religious and social significance or are concerned with funerary customs, fertility rites, or curing sickness. They may be used on festive occasions or to portray characters in a dramatic performance and in re-enactments of mythological events. They may be used for warfare and as protective devices in certain sports. They are also employed as architectural ornaments.
  • Nigerian
  • painting - The art and practice of applying pigments suspended in water, oil, egg yolk, molten wax, or other liquid to a surface to create an expressive or communicative image. Paint is usually, but not always, applied with a brush. For the application of paint primarily to protect a surface or add a general color, use "painting (coating)."
  • ritual objects - Objects used for a particular ritual activity, often as part of a ceremony.
  • superstructures - Refers to the upper portions of buildings or other structures located above the foundation and usually above ground level.
  • West African - Styles and cultures from the region comprising the westernmost area of the African continent, defined by the United Nations as including the modern nations of Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte d'Ivoire, Cape Verde, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, and Togo.
  • wood - The principal tissue of trees and other plants that provides both strength and a means of conducting nutrients. Wood is one of the most versatile materials known.

Additional Images Click an image to view a larger version
Additional Image 99.5.60_BMC_f_2.jpg
Additional Image 99.5.60_BMC_r.jpg
Additional Image 99.5.60_BMC_pr.jpg
Additional Image 99.5.60_BMC_pl.jpg
Additional Image 99.5.60_BMC_pr_2.jpg
Additional Image 99.5.60_BMC_f_3.jpg
Additional Image 99.5.60_BMC_f.jpg

Exhibition List
This object was included in the following exhibitions:
  • African and Pacific Art from the Neufeld Collection Bryn Mawr College , Apr 28, 1993 – Jun 1, 1993

  • Owner Name: Mace Neufeld and Helen Katz Neufeld, Class of 1953
    Role: Donor
    Place: Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, US
    Ownership End Date: 7/18/1991

Bibliography List
The following Bibliography exist for this object:
  • "African Heritage Document and Research Center." (Accessed June 11, 2020): Record No.: 0180364.

Comparanda List
The following Comparanda exist for this object:
  • Jeanette Jensen Arneson, Tradition and Change in Yoruba Art (Sacramento, California: E. B. Crocker Art Gallery, 1974), 37. Figure Number: 19

Related Bibliography List
The following Related Bibliography exist for this object:
  • Henry John Drewal, "Gelede Masquerade: Imagery and Motif." African Arts 7, no. 4 (Summer 1974): 8-19, 62-63, 95-96.
  • Margaret Thompson Drewal and Henry John Drewal. "Gelede Dance of the Western Yoruba." African Arts 8, no. 2 (Winter 1975): 36-45, 78-79.
  • Stefan Eisenhofer, ed. Kulte, Künstler, Könige in Afrika: Tradition und Moderne in Südnigeria (Linz, Austria: des Oberösterreichisches Landesmuseums, 1977), 179-188.
  • Babatunde Lawal, The Gẹ̀lẹ̀dé Spectacle (Seattle and London: University of Washington Press, 1996),

Portfolio List Click a portfolio name to view all the objects in that portfolio
This object is a member of the following portfolios:

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<ref name=BMC>cite web |url= |title=Efe Headdress (Gelede Mask with Superstructure) |author=Bryn Mawr College Library Special Collections |accessdate=2/8/2023 |publisher=Bryn Mawr College</ref>

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