The Female Form as Visual Metaphor for Masculinity in Traditional Yoruba Belief


African Humanities Program Postdoctoral Fellowships


Department of Architecture


This study examines the ironical yet symbolic use of the female form as a visual representation of masculinity in traditional Yoruba art. The study will argue that the construction and interpretation of masculinity among the Yoruba finds its root in the psycho-religious idea that the female form possesses paranormal powers believed to override the will and strength of men, making the woman more central to the meaning of masculinity than the man himself. The study will rely on primary data gathered through interviews with tradition artists, religious priests and women society leaders while using selected religious sculpture as case study material. Drawing on frameworks of symbolism and visual Identity, this research will expand our understanding and appreciation of Yoruba masculinity while challenging central issues on gender identity and presentation.