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HOME : African & Tribal Art : Yoruba Masks : Yoruba Wooden Polychrome Egungun Headdress Mask
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Yoruba Wooden Polychrome Egungun Headdress Mask - PF.4664
Origin: Southwestern Nigeria
Circa: 20 th Century AD
Dimensions: 10" (25.4cm) high x 4" (10.2cm) wide
Collection: African
Medium: Wood

Additional Information: closet AF12
Location: United States
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The ability of an artist to communicate ideas that transcend normal experience, and to make such ideas understandable, is a hallmark of creativity. The Yoruba culture is rich in a heritage combining ancestral worship, belief in a pantheon of gods and innumerable spirits. Animals are often used as representations of bush spirits and play a symbolic role in important ceremonies. For instance, the gelede society performs elaborate dance rituals wearing masks in the form of various animals.

Within such a context we can better understand this powerful bust, which shows a male with enormous ears of an antelope or gazelle. These ears shoot straight up with great force and lovely symmetry. The man wears a head ornament attached with a nail. Another is nailed at the back resembling a bird. The face has marks of ritual scarification on the cheeks and there are traces of red paint. Almost as striking as the ears is the intensity of the man's eyes, which stare with unwavering penetration as if he is seeing into another world. This bust may represent someone of importance, such as a high priest, chief, ancestral figure or a god. Whether he was intended as part of ceremonies or for private veneration, this bust communicates a wealth of emotion which enriches our own lives.
- (PF.4664)


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