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Out of Afrika Cult : The Yoruba Egungun Masquerade

The arrival of the Masquerades from heaven. The “spiritual” masquerade moves around town the early hours, speaks in esoteric voice.

Year: 2015, 48 mins
Code: KDKA-OutPt1

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This video documents a full 4 days of Egungun Festivities unique to AIYEDUN-EKITI, an ancient Yoruba town where the tradition dates back 4 centuries.

The viewer is taken to both “spiritual” and “entertaining” masquerades, performed in authentic outfits, to traditional Yoruba music. Observe the people of the town, the king, chiefs and their roles during the festivites.
Egungun, meaning "powers concealed" or “dry bones (of ancestors),” is a Yoruba (South Western Nigeria) masquerade that provides an important connection between the worlds of the living and the dead. The masquerades are performed during annual or biennial festivals honoring ancestors and at commemorative rites marking the deaths of important community members of both sexes. The power and purpose of the egungun mask can only be fully understood when it is brought to life by young men performing flamboyant ritual dances.
Masquerades are generally believed and accepted to be the spirit of the departed Ancestors, who are on a temporary earthly visit. They are therefore accorded the highest level of reverence, respected and treated with Awe as people from heaven. Egungun plays an essential part of the Yoruba pantheon of divinities and worship. To this day, the Yoruba beleives that the masquerades bring messages from the dead and as such, they are referred to as “ARA ORUN” meaning “people from heaven”.
There are two types of masquerades performed: “the spiritual” and “the entertaining” masquerades. Activities of “the spiritual” masquerades are shrouded in secrecy, while the “entertaining” ones (a.k.a. EgunEgun Elewe) engage in enthralling performance in the open to the delight of everyone present.

Interested in textile? Watch Textile Talk on Egungun festive costumes and textile.

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