Nigerian master carver of puppets and masks. Born into a family of carvers, Duga was one of the master sculptors of masks and figures used in gelede masquerade. He apprenticed under a master carver in Ketu with his expenses paid during training by the gelede cult group for which he subsequently carved. Though he could later create images for other groups or cults and keep the fees he earned, he normally checked with the heads of the gelede group which supported his training and who provided his primary support throughout his career. Among the other carvers he trained are his son Ganiyu and Sam Laroye. His rival in Meku was another noted artist Mahudi Lashunyi.
Images that Duga created were chosen in consultation with the patron and ranged from masks, to moving structures, to staffs. He was known for his helmet masks with intricate figures or scenes of humans or animals atop them, for example intertwining snakes or a Muslim cleric being paddled to heaven, to a wheeled horse that accommodated four manipulators inside as another man danced as if riding the figure in the funeral ceremony of Chief Isiaka in 1953 in Meko.
Duga’s works are in the collection of the American Museum of Natural History, and were collected by African arts scholars such as William Bascom, Henry Drewal and Robert Farris Thompson.
- Bascom, William. “A Yoruba Master Carver: Duga of Meko”. The Traditional Artist in African Societies. Ed. Warren L. d’Azevedo. Bloomington and London: Indiana Univ. Press, 1973, pp. 62-78.
- Witte, Hans. A Closer Look: Local Styles in Yoruba Art Collections of the Africa Museum Berg en Dal. Berg en Dal, The Netherlands: Africa Museum, 2004.