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Egungun Masquerade Costume

African Art

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Egungun Masquerade Costume

Artwork Details

Artist/Maker

Yoruba Artist, Oyo, Nigeria

Date

eighteenth–twentieth century (exterior velvet panels: 1750–1850)

Medium

Cloth, cowrie shells, and wood

Accession #

2002.2

Dimensions

86 x 50 inches

Location

On View - Stent Family Wing, Skyway, Gallery 401

Description

In Yoruba communities, ancestors are described as “beings from beyond,” fittingly personified by otherworldly Egungun masks such as this one. These masks are worn at annual street festivals held in honor of the ancestor of a city’s founding lineages. Each of the mask’s material components has meaning. The outer layers are made from imported velvets to convey social prestige through the display of luxurious cloth. The inner layers are made of indigo-dyed, handspun cotton cloth. Cowrie shells, used in Ifa divination and in the past as a form of currency, cascade profusely.

Credit

Purchase through prior acquisitions