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.


The mask of the gentle form of the egungun ode is carved with soft features, "like those of a woman," with the distinctive headdress tiered and carefully incised.  The type is known for its ability to give children to women who petition it.  One will occasionally see an ode masquerader with a cloth strip hanging from the end of its projecting headdress, given to it by a woman who has successfully given birth in the past year after begging its intercession.