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Gelede headdress

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Gelede masquerades celebrate the special powers of female spirits known as, "the mothers". The mothers possess a powerful life force (ase), which can be used for benevolent of malevolent purposes. The destructive capacity of "the mothers" is called "aje" and is associated with infertility,...

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By 1970s, Mr. Kabah, Cambridge, MA; 1970s, sold by Kabah to Geneviève McMillan, Cambridge, MA; gift of McMillan to MFA. (Accession Date: June 17, 2009)

Credit Line

Gift of Geneviève McMillan in memory of Reba Stewart

African, Nigeria, Yoruba peoples, 20th century, 1920–70

Object Place

Republic of Benin


Overall (with lid): 54 x 55 x 42 cm (21 1/4 x 21 5/8 x 16 9/16 in.) Overall (without lid): 45 x 32 x 33 cm (17 11/16 x 12 5/8 x 13 in.) Overall (lid alone): 8.5 cm (3 3/8 in.)

Accession Number


Medium or Technique

Wood , pigment


Africa and Oceania