Title: Costume for the Egungun Masquerade
Date: mid-20th century
Artist: Unidentified Yoruba artist
Medium: cloth, fiber, cowrie shells, wood, brass, plastic beads, stone, animal skin and hair, seed pods, gourd, bird beak, blood, and egg
24 x 24 x 72 in. (61 x 61 x 182.9 cm)
Credit Line: Museum Shop Fund
Object Number: 73:1990
Place associated: southwestern Nigeria
Current Location: Not On View
The fabrics that comprise this ensemble include a variety of printed trade cloths, and reflect different images and messages assembled into one composite form. This attire would have been used in a performance for the ancestors known as “powers concealed” ("egungun"), in which the performer was entirely covered. During the "egungun" masquerade, the performer would engage in fast, swirling motions, designed to send the layers of cloth spinning in a bright whirl of fabric. The masquerade’s origins appear to be tied to the cult of Shango, the Yoruba god of thunder and lightning. The royal court at Oyo, where the historical Shango reigned and which ruled most of Yorubaland in the 18th and early 19th centuries, may have supported this connection.
Exhibition History
Title: Assemblage and Adornment: African Dress from the Collection
Date: March 3, 1991 - August 8, 1991
Venue: Saint Louis Art Museum
Title: Textiles of the World
Date: March 18 – May 30, 1994
Venue: Saint Louis Art Museum
Publication History
Title: Textiles from the Collection
Periodical Title: The Saint Louis Art Museum Bulletin
Author: Zoe Annis Perkins
Publisher: Saint Louis Art Museum
Title: Textiles of the World
Periodical Title: Saint Louis Art Museum Magazine
Publisher: Saint Louis Art Museum
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