Art and Death in A Yoruba Community

by Norma Wolff
Professor Emerita, Iowa State University

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

The eyes that stare from the back of egungun ode Gbamgabose are those of a monkey.  The monkey head which is always attached to the back of an ode alate mask may be a reference to the Ijimere Monkey, referred to in some myths as the first egungun.  The featureless figure facing to the right represents an egungun Babalaago masquerader to indicate that the family of the owner has such an egungun.  The Babalaago, which wears only cloth, is considered the most prestigious of all the Itoko egungun.