Yoruba Gelede Masquerade

by Henry J. Drewal
University of Wisconsin, Madison

Gelede of porcupine, Egbado-Yoruba, Nigeria, 1978. Photo by H.J. Drewal and M.T. Drewal. Submitted by Henry Drewal.

Animals in other Gelede masks may be used for satiric purposes to criticize antisocial actions or attributes.  Porcupines, because of their voracious appetites and slow, sluggish movement, are sometimes a metaphor for gluttonous or selfish persons.  A headdress depicting a plump porcupine devouring a corncob conveys its greed and thus warns/reminds the audience about proper social behavior.