Benin art is the art from the Kingdom of Benin (1440–1897), a pre-colonial African state located in what is now known as the South-South region of Nigeria. Benin art was produced mainly for the court of the Oba of Benin – a divine ruler for whom the craftsmen produced a range of ceremonially significant objects. The full complexity of these works can be appreciated only through the awareness and consideration of two complementary cultural perceptions of the art of Benin: the Western appreciation of them primarily as works of art, and their understanding in Benin as historical documents and as mnemonic devices to reconstruct history, or as ritual objects.
The Gelede spectacle of the Yoruba is a public display by colorful masks which combines art and ritual dance to amuse, educate and inspire worship.Gelede masks are worn with a costume consisting of layers of elaborate, colorful cloth.
The Gelede “mask” is more accurately a headdress, since it rests on top of the head and the wearer’s face is covered by a cloth veil. The headdress takes the form of a human head, on top of which are motifs that are intended to entertain onlookers but, in addition, usually address social concerns that may also be expressed in songs that are part of the masquerade. The headdresses are usually brightly painted.
Individuals or families will usually go to any length to make their headdresses as attractive and humorous as possible. The endless variety of the motifs and their combinations makes it difficult to attempt to construct a typology of Gelede headdresses.
“The headdress is to the costume what the head (ori) is to the human body. It is an index of identification and the essence of the masker’s personality as long as he is inside the mask. In spite of the comical representations that often appear on the headdress, the face below the superstructure remains serene, as if stressing the paradox that is life-and the need to live life with special care.”
This unique and authentic object, is a Gelede mask from Benin, Africa. Is a fine hand-carved Yoruba tribe Gelede mask made of light wood, all painted in hand.
Dimensions Height: 37 centimeters
Width: 28 centimeters
Depth: 30 centimeters