This unusual Yoruba group - a bright yellow female figure topped by a blue mask represents a mother figure supporting a mask of an ancestral spirit. The female and the spirit are connected by the snake who in turn is fed by a bird. Snake is a very powerful symbol in Yoruba religion.There are various interpretations of meaning of snakes in African culture. In this context, I believe that the snake is the symbol of fertility and knowledge. Often snakes or serpents on Gelede masks are shown fighting each other. It is unusual that the artist who carved this sculpture chose to show the bird and the snake not as enemies.
The upward motion of the curving arms of the female figure, repeated in the curving body of the snake which reaches up to the bird who feeds it evokes a very moving and sensuous feeling.
Provenance: Raskin Private Collection