Reintegration / Ancestors

By Monica Demott
(formerly University of Iowa)

Yoruba peoples, Nigeria, egungun masquerade. Photo by Norma Wolff.

The performer's ensemble is rich with significance.  The layers of cloth are significant for textiles are associated with healing and resurrection in Yoruba myths (R.F. Thompson 1974: 219).  The headdress, which may be constructed entirely out of cloth, or may include a carved wooden figure, such as the one pictured here, may signify the status of the deceased, or may be a reference to Gelede, a Yoruba masquerade directed at women.  A veil of cloth or cowrie shells conceals the performer and protects him from the gazes of malicious forces.