X65.9148 Headdress (ere egungun olode)

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Headdress (ere egungun olode)
Yoruba peoples
19th-early 20th century
Wood, cotton, cloth, paint
H: 31.0 cm, W: 47.0 cm, D: 37.0 cm (H: 12.2 in, W: 18.5 in, D: 14.5 in)
Folwer Museum at UCLA. Gift of the Wellcome Trust. X65.9148


Hunting is a revered profession among Yoruba men, as reflected in these two ere egungun olode headdresses depicting a hunter with a distinctive braided hairstyle. Egungun headdresses may manifest recently deceased spirits who have returned to the world of the living to see their families before journeying into the spirit world. Representations of thunder axes, a pressure drum, monkey heads, and vials for storing powerful substances adorn the head of the larger headdress, alluding to the abilities of ancestors to protect the families of hunters and particularly their children. The body of the performer wearing such a headdress would be covered in spectacular layers of colorful cloth that would whirl as he moved.

Source: Exhibition Wall Text: Intersections: World Arts, Local Lives, 2006