Art and Death in A Yoruba Community

by Norma Wolff
Professor Emerita, Iowa State University

Egungun Ode. Yoruba peoples, Nigeria. Photo by Norma H. Wolff. 

Only certain types of egungun, such as egungun ode (the hunter egungun), worn by worshippers of Ogun, can be manifested as either jeje or ijanjuku.  The ode mask is identified by the hunters' long headdress tufted to the left with a knob at the tip suggesting a container for medicines.   Visual clues to the personality of the masquerader are incorporated into the mask.

The facial features of the ode ijanjuku mask are "hard" and ugly; the eyes bulge out, visually emphasizing the power and violence contained within.  The tailed headdress is small and is often tufted to the rear, like the headdress of Eshu, the messenger of the deities who delights in causing conflict and confusion.