Skip to contentSkip to navigation
Become a Member
Explore today's schedule
Visit MMFA for free by becoming a Member
Learn more
Back
Currently shown

Oro Efe Mask

Location

BENIN or NIGERIA, BORDER REGION

Culture

Yoruba

Title

Oro Efe Mask

Date

Before 1972

Materials

Wood, pigments

Dimensions

40 x 31 x 40 cm

Credits

Ernest Gagnon Collection, gift of the Province du Canada français de la Compagnie de Jésus, inv. 1975.F.152

Collection

Archeology and World Cultures

Recognized as part of the intangible cultural heritage of humanity since 2008, the Gelede masquerade emerged among the Yoruba in the Kétou area in Benin about the late eighteenth century. It pays tribute to the primordial mother Iyà Nlà and to the elderly women called “our mothers” (awon iya wa), encouraging them to use their power for the good of the community. The ceremony begins with a dance at night that culminates with the appearance of Oro Efe, whose chants tackle both sacred and secular subjects, particularly through using satire to criticize antisocial behaviours. The birds depicted on this helmet mask are a reference to their role as messengers of the gods.

Add a touch of culture to your inbox
Subscribe to the Museum newsletter

Bourgie Hall Newsletter sign up

This website uses cookies in order to optimize your browsing experience and for promotional purposes. To learn more, please see our policy on the protection of personal Iinformation