The University of Iowa University of Iowa

Yoruba Gelede Masquerade

by Henry J. Drewal
University of Wisconsin, Madison

Gelede with female coiffure, Ketu-Yoruba, Lagos, Nigeria, 1978. Photo by H.J. Drewal and M.T. Drewal. Submitted by Henry Drewal.  


Gelede maskers entertain and enlighten the community and "our mothers," pleasing, placating and thus encouraging them to use their extraordinary powers for the well-being of society. Gelede performances are thus a sacrifice, ebo, an appeal to forces in the world using the aesthetic power of masks, costume, music, song and dance to evoke and comment upon social and spiritual matters, helping to shape society and those within it in constructive ways.