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Seattle Art Museum (SAM)

Iya wo (Wife and Mother) Mask and Costume for a "Being from Beyond"

Iya wo (Wife and Mother) Mask and Costume for a "Being from Beyond"


These two seated characters are Egungun, or "beings from beyond," who bring the spirits of powerful people back to visit and reassert their influence. This mother is often the last spirit to emerge in a performance, adding her serious comedy to conclude the visit. Carefully seated with her baby in her lap, she appears to be a committed and loving mother.

Suddenly, however, when she spots a handsome man nearby, she tosses the baby in the air and forgets all about her maternal obligations so she can flirt with him. This hilarious role reversal signals that it is time for the Egungun to return to the other world.

Cotton and silk cloth, string, beads, amulets of velvet and leather, wood, commercial gardening gloves, metal ornaments
Seated, approx.: 58 x 42 x 23 in.
Necklace: 16 x 9 x 1"
Doll: 67 x 15 x 4"
Mask/headdress: 19 x 10 1/2 x 5"
Gloves: 9 x 7"
Breast plate: 67 x 27 x 4"
Pants: 38 x 22"
Cloth: 44 x 74"
Shirt: 55 x 22"
Cloth: 28 x 80"
Cloth: 19 x 74"
General Acquisition Fund
Not currently on view


Exhibition HistorySeattle, Washington, Seattle Art Museum, Art from Africa: Long Steps Never Broke a Back, February 7, 2002-April 30, 2006

Seattle, Wash., Seattle Art Museum, Disguise: Masks and Global African Art, June 18–Sept. 7, 2015 (Los Angeles, Calif., UCLA, Fowler Museum of Cultural History, Oct. 18, 2015–Mar. 13, 2016; Brooklyn, N.Y., Brooklyn Museum, Apr. 29–Sept. 18, 2016).

Seattle Art Museum acknowledges that we are on the traditional homelands of the Duwamish and the customary territories of the Suquamish and Muckleshoot Peoples. As a cultural and educational institution, we honor our ongoing connection to these communities past, present, and future. We also acknowledge the urban Native peoples from many Nations who call Seattle their home.