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ID number:  BIRRC-D0017
Institution:  Research and Cultural Collections
Named collection:  Danford Collection of West African Art and Artefacts
Artist / Maker:  attributed to Ona, Thomas (c. 1900-1960)
Title / Object name:  Dance mask, 'Gelede'-type
Object type:  Mask
Place made:  Lagos, Nigeria
Culture:  Yoruba
Materials:  Painted wood
Measurements:  16 x 44 cm
BIRRC-D0017.jpg

This Gelede mask comprises a head with facial marks and elaborately dressed hair, plus 4 small figures, each 16 cm high, pegged to the head-dress. All the figures are painted in brown, black, white and blue.

Gelede is a Yoruba festival in honour of “our mothers” (awon iya wa) and masks such as these are central to its celebration. However, this particular mask has been made for sale to Europeans. It was initially purchased in 1947 and consequently lent to the Collection by John Danford.

Notes:  John Danford spent the majority of his professional life working for the British Council in West Africa. He spent 11 years as the representative in Ibadan, Nigeria, his arts education providing him with the insight to encourage and develop the arts in Nigeria. For his achievements in this area he was awarded an OBE in 1953. He occupied three further posts in Trinidad, Manchester and Sierra Leone before illness forced him into retirement. In 1964 a large portion of his West African arts collection was loaned to the University of Birmingham before being purchased in 1975, forming the nucleus of the Danford Collection of West African Art and Artefacts.

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