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Masques Gèlèdè

Le pouvoir des Mères
Affiche de l'exposition temporaire : Masques Gèlèdè. Le pouvoir des Mères
Don't forget to touch the ground with your fingertips if you hear about the Iyami osoronga. The ones who are called "our Mothers" in Yoruba. The ones who are celebrated by the tradition of the Gèlèdè. They are feared and respected because they possess a sacred power, the power of "ashè*". They have the reputation of transforming themselves into birds and of meeting at night. They are old women or mothers who can no longer conceive and who hold the secret of life.

*In Yoruba language

The Gèlèdè mask ceremonies take root in Kétou, Benin. They are organized in the public square with the aim of protecting oneself from the wrath of the "Mothers" and to gain their favor. They aim to regulate the life of society, transmit messages and solve problems: epidemics, droughts, famines... They are guarantors of morals and traditions by sending messages to the orishas* or to the ancestors. The cult is divided between nighttime festivities and daytime ceremonies: some are satirical, others are more solemn or moving.

These imposing masks, worn by excellent dancers, are made up of cloth outfits and carved wooden headdresses. Accompanied by musicians and singers, they have become important players in the cohesion of communities practicing Vodoun. The wooden piece worn on the head shows colorful narrative scenes, sometimes articulated with animals or humans. While the men dress and bring the costumes to life, it is the women who pull the strings of the ceremonies.

A Yoruba proverb says that "the eyes that have seen the gèlèdè have seen the ultimate show". Since 2008, it has been listed as an intangible cultural heritage of humanity by Unesco.

The Château Vodou invites you to a colorful and animated exhibition of masks from the Arbogast collection.

* Divinities in Yoruba language
Adeline Beck

Museum details

4 rue de Koenigshoffen
+33 3 88 36 15 03
Opening hours

48.580402, 7.728582