Beaded Dance Panel
Glass beads, cloth, felt
H: 36 cm, W: 26.5 cm, D: 8.8 cm (H: 14.1 in, 10.4 in, 3.4 in)
Fowler Museum at UCLA. Gift of George G. Frelinghuysen. X67.2056
Such beaded panels embellish the dance gestures of the devout as they celebrate the spiritual forces in their lives. The dance panels seem to be associated with a number of deities. At Efon-Alaye, they are usually worn by young persons in rites for progeny and the protection of children. Represented in an Epa headdress worn by a female who wears crossing baldricks, a heavy collar, metal arm bangles, and a ritual water vessel on her head , the dance panels seem be linked with Osun, goddess of sweet, cooling, healing water and protector of children. This same water theme can also be seen in the sculpture carried on the head of one young Efon man wearing dance panels. The sculpture portrays Mami Wata with snake curling around her torso and over her head. At Ila-Orangun among the Igbomina-Yoruba yata are worn by Osun priestesses as they dance while balancing brass vessels filled with sanctified water and healing leaves; they are identical to those shown in the Epa headdress. The bright yellow beads that fill the background of the central panels and face suggest the brightness of brass and the sweetness of honey, both attributes of our mother Osun.
Source: Drewal, H., Mason, J. (1998). “Beads, Body, and Soul – Art and Light in the Yoruba Universe”, Los Angeles: UCLA Fowler Museum of Cultural History. page 263