The Cleveland Museum of Art

Collection Online as of February 20, 2024



c. 1945–1950
(Nigerian, Yorùbá peoples, 1880–1960)
Overall: 77.7 cm (30 9/16 in.)

Did You Know?

Duga received a kind of "scholarship" for his apprenticeship with a master carver in Ketu. The Gẹ̀lẹ̀dé society paid for his training in exchange for masks he later carved for them.


Men in the Gẹ̀lẹ̀dé society performed paired masks like these during annual masquerades honoring Ìyá Nlá (Great Mother). The event demonstrates respect for motherhood and female power within a male-dominated society. These gẹ̀lẹ̀dé masks depict idealized “beautiful maidens” with crocodiles perched atop their head ties. Such dangerous reptiles were linked to witches and the thunder god; their jointed tails swung realistically during performance. Multiple paint layers show how these masks were repainted to keep them looking fresh. Masks like these gained Duga his reputation as Mẹkọ’s best sculptor and a noted early 20th-century Yorùbá artist.
  • Herbert Baker
    Katherine C. White [1929-1980], Gates Mills, OH, given to the Cleveland Museum of Art
    The Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland, OH
  • Arts of Africa: Gallery Rotation (African art rotation). The Cleveland Museum of Art (organizer) (December 10, 2021-July 2, 2023).
    CMA 1976: "Year in Review 1975," Bulletin LXIII (February 1976), p. 65, no. 18.A
    CMA 1986: Possessors of Power: African Masks and Sculpture, January 28-March 23, 1986; The Beachwood Museum, April 2-30, 1986.
  • {{cite web|title=Mask|url=false|author=Duga of Mẹkọ|year=c. 1945–1950|access-date=20 February 2024|publisher=Cleveland Museum of Art}}

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