art of the mask Yoruba Tribe.
Language: Yoruba (Kwa)
Neighboring Peoples: Fon, Igbo, Igala, Idoma
bearers appearing at funerals are believed to embody the spirit of the
deceased person. These maskers have the power to communicate with the
deceased, Yoruba people strongly believe that when they die, they enter
the realm of the ancestors or spirit world from where they have
influence and power on earth.
Yoruba masks are worn by a traditional healer to drive evil spirits from
the possessed person. The arts of the Yoruba are numerous in form,
Beautifully sculptured and or carved art pieces are placed on shrines to
honor the gods and the ancestors. Varied masking traditions have
resulted in a great diversity of mask forms. Beautiful sculpture abounds
in wood and brass and the occasional terracotta.
of years ago the Yoruba tribe had an exceedingly complex number system
based on twenty.
Religious belief: Tribal
leaders and the communities in
which they reside, pay annual homage to the graves of ancestors,
honoring deceased members through a yearly sacrifice. No
organized priesthoods or shrines exist in honor of Olorun, but his
spirit is invoked to ask for blessings and to confer thanks.
Each town has a leader (Oba), who may achieve his position in several
different ways including inheritance, gaining the position through
participation in title associations, or being personally elected by an
Oba already in power. Each Oba, is considered to be a direct descendant
of the founding Oba in each city. A council of chiefs usually assists
the Oba in his decisions. Title associations, such as the ogboni, play
an important role in assigning and balancing power within the cities.
Historically, the Yoruba were primarily farmers, growing cocoa and yams
as cash crops. These are planted in a three-year rotational system,
alternating with cassava and a year of diverse crops including maize,
peanuts, cotton, and beans. At the end of a three-year cycle the land is
left fallow, sometimes for seven years. It is estimated that at one time
nearly 70 percent of people participated in agriculture and ten percent
each working as crafts people and traders within the towns. Yoruba land
is characterized by numerous densely populated urban centers with
surrounding fields for farming. The centralization of wealth within
cities allowed for the development of a complex market economy, which
encouraged extensive patronage of the arts.