Yoruba Gelede Masquerade
by Henry J. Drewal
University of Wisconsin, Madison
Gelede pays homage to the spiritual powers of women, especially elderly women known affectionately as "our mothers," awon iya wa. The powers possessed by such women, comparable to those of the gods, spirits, or ancestors, may be used for the benefit or the destruction of society. When manifesting their destructive dimension such elderly women are termed aje ("witches"). If angered, they can bring down individuals and entire communities.