Headdress Surmounted by Four Women's Faces and Mami Wata

mid-to late 20th century

African Art

On view, 1st floor, African Art

Revered throughout many parts of Africa and the African Atlantic world, Mami Wata (Mother Water) is a water spirit with roots in Hindu deities, African water spirits, and Christian and Muslim saints. The widespread nature of Mami Wata imagery in West Africa represents the cultural, spiritual, and aesthetic connections between Africans and the rest of the world. The Mami Wata iconography in this headdress reminds both the wearer and the viewer that arts and cultures from around the world dictate the aesthetics of Ode-Lay masquerade.


Wood with paint, fabric, feathers, mirror, yarn, paper, and metal wire


54 1/2 × 20 × 19 in. (138.43 × 50.8 × 48.26 cm)

Credit Line

Charles B. Benenson, B.A. 1933, Collection

Accession Number



20th century


Note: This electronic record was created from historic documentation that does not necessarily reflect the Yale University Art Gallery’s complete or current knowledge about the object. Review and updating of records is ongoing.



Possibly Jeremiah Cole, Los Angeles and Atlanta. Charles B. Benenson Collection, donated to Yale University Art Gallery in 2004
  • Frederick John Lamp, Amanda Maples, and Laura M. Smalligan, Accumulating Histories: African Art from the Charles B. Benenson Collection at the Yale University Art Gallery (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Art Gallery, 2012), 312, ill
  • Henry John Drewal, "Mami Wata: Arts for Water Spirits in Africa and Its Diaspora," African Arts 41 (2008), 76, fig. I.5
  • "Acquisitions, July 1, 2005–June 30, 2006," Yale University Art Gallery Bulletin (2006), 222
Object copyright
Additional information

Object/Work type

ceremonial objects, headdress, headgear, masks (costume)

Technical metadata and APIs


Open in Mirador

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