This representation of a woman trader is a gelede mask. At festivals, Yoruba men perform gelede masquerade in honor of the significant role women play in the community as market women, mothers, elders, and ancestors. Blue pigment, either natural indigo or an industrialized dye called washing blue, is applied to many Yoruba sculptures. Blue expresses coolness, purity, discretion, and composure. It is often associated with water deities, such as Yemoja who is the goddess of rivers and is known as a patron deity of pregnant women.
From the 2023 exhibition Homecoming: Domesticity and Kinship in Global African Art, curated by Alexandra Thomas, Curatorial Research Associate
Faces of Culture: Masks from the Permanent Collection of the Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire, November 1, 1991-November 1, 1993.
Homecoming: Domesticity and Kinship in Global African Art, Harteveldt Family Gallery, Owen Robertson Cheatham Gallery, and Northeast Gallery, Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth, Hanover, New Hampshire, July 22, 2023–May 25, 2024.
Harry A. Franklin, about 1950; to Valerie Franklin (daughter), 1983; given to present collection, 1990.
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