About the Artwork

Gelede masquerades celebrate the spiritual powers of “our mothers” and reflect community gender dynamics. Whether by satirizing antisocial behavior or praising dutiful individuals and groups, masks are used to teach, critique, and entertain while shaping public opinion about current events. This Gelede mask faithfully depicts a blacksmith and his coworkers at the forge, each executing a specific task as they contend with the dangers of high heat to fashion objects of purpose and beauty. Alaiye Adeisa Etuobe, the artist thought to have carved the mask, may have been a blacksmith or a member of a blacksmith’s family, given his acute interpretation of the workings of the forge.

Image credit:

Attributed to Alaiye Adeisa Etuobe (active mid-20th century, Yorùbá peoples, Nigeria)
Gelede Mask, mid-20th century
Wood, laundry bluing, pigments
Fowler Museum at UCLA, X70.990; Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Harry Hughes