Benin: Ouidah for the Revenant

Benin: Ouidah for the Revenant


Okay, time to finish up the Vodoun celebration, with my preferred part: the Revenant, likewise called the Egungun. Numerous years back, it was seeing the stunning (uncredited– sorry!) image of Revenant masqueraders listed below that made me put the Vodoun celebration at the really leading of my container list, however at the time I didn’t understand what they were called or anything about them, and I anticipated to see them throughout the celebration.

Benin's Mysterious Voodoo Religion Is Celebrated In Its Annual Festival In reality, they made just a few looks, and just one of which I captured. On the night of the 10 th, a much smaller sized crowd of individuals than had actually been at the celebration correct collected in a dirt field in the center of Ouidah to view the phenomenon. From the minute I saw them I was carried with wonder– although whatever I had actually seen up until now had actually been astonishing, these cultural work of arts were what I had actually come for.


The Egungun masqueraders (all males– not that you might inform since they were covered from head to toe) took turns either resting in a row of chairs near an opening in the ring of individuals, or walking the center of the ring. Often among them would stalk around menacingly prior to burglarizing a complete run and charging into a crowd of individuals while whirling his attire, whipping up dirt and sand, and requiring everybody to get away and/or collaborate to press him back. It advised me of videos I have actually seen of the running of the bulls at Pamplona. I captured the really tail end of among these enters among the videos at the end of the post.


Other times they would stroll precariously near to the external edge of the circle of individuals, and whenever they threatened to inch in amongst the audience, a “minder” would bark at them and hold them back with a stick.


Other times, they would leap and kick and turn over to the beat of drums or in time with the minders’ sticks. Now it felt less like a bullfight and more like lion tamers with their lions.


They had the most surprisingly luxurious attire, a lot of which had actually concealed “unique impacts” that came out when the masqueraders relocated a specific method.


For instance, the masqueraders above, who looked type of like knights, might raise their capes and twirl them around their head at excessive speeds, so they appeared like spinning wheels. And the masquerader listed below had flaps of material hanging off the back of his attire, however when he popped them up in a specific method the entire thing changed, and the masquerader’s head was changed by a wood one that appeared out of the folds in the material.


However the masquerader listed below was my outright preferred, maybe since he advised me of that initial image I had actually seen. Right prior to I took this image of him, he stopped brief and began gazing at me (well, who understands if he was really gazing, since I could not see his eyes). Then he began moseying towards me, and I was both delighted and alarmed. His minder appeared and rerouted him simply as he came within a couple of inches of me.


Somebody had actually described to me that throughout the Revenant, long-dead forefathers return as spirits that have the masqueraders, who fall under a hypnotic trance and quit their body to the will of the spirit. It appeared like they were attempting to frighten the crowd, which the minders supervised of keeping them at bay, however then I check out in the New york city Times short article I kept referencing the other day: “touching a revenant throughout a hypnotic trance, it is thought, can be deadly.” And according to this strikingly lovely image collection ( with pictures and video a million times much better than mine), ” Egungun is a dance efficiency that opens a portal in between the world of the dead and the living. Throughout the dance, the forefathers send out true blessings to the viewers and the whole neighborhood.” So perhaps it is not that the spirits are malicious however rather that the masqueraders’ trance-like state can make them do inadvertently violent things.

My videos from the Revenant are listed below. I’ll get once again with Ouidah for the next installation, however it will concentrate on the town’s history as a center of the servant trade.