Egúngún, right here in New York City

Egúngún, right here in New York City


As might have been clear when I discussed it in February, I remained in severe wonder and adoration of the egúngún masquerade that I saw throughout the Vodoun celebration in Benin. I actually didn’t understand much about the custom prior to going to; I had actually primarily simply seen images that blew my mind and persuaded me to go to. Ever since, I have actually read up on it, and the subject grows a growing number of interesting with every word. It likewise grows a growing number of complicated in specific methods, due to subtleties in the cultures, faiths, and ritualistic practices of close however not totally comparable individuals who share the egúngún custom, like the Fon in Benin and the Yoruba in Nigeria. So, I will price quote freely from reliable texts instead of attempt to describe things in my own really unauthoritative words.


Last weekend I was delighted to go to the Brooklyn Museum for their display of an egúngún outfit made a long time in between 1920 and 1948 in Nigeria by a household called Lekewọgbẹ. The museum explains the display as:

“the lif e story of a twentieth-century Yorùbá masquerade dance outfit (egúngún), from its origins in Ògbómọ̀ṣọ́, Nigeria, to its present house in Brooklyn. Made up of over 3 hundred fabrics from Africa, Europe, and Asia, this egúngún swirls into movement throughout celebrations honoring left forefathers. Centuries old, egúngún is still practiced in Nigeria, the Republic of Benin, and in the Yorùbá diaspora.”


Likewise according to the Brooklyn Museum, egúngún is a Yoruba word that can describe 3 unique however associated things: ” all Yoruba masquerades, a particular masking society and associated celebrations, and the specific masks utilized in those occasions.” Egúngún masquerades return centuries to the 16th century.

” Frequently appearing at yearly celebrations that honor never-ceasing forefathers, egúngún likewise emerge on unique celebrations or at minutes of requirement. The masks are vessels for common ancestral spirits and, as such, are active just when inhabited by those forces or ny maskers embodying those spirits. Guy who carry out egúngún stay human while momentarily handling a spiritual measurement as they physically manifest unseeable ancestral forces. As dancers should hide their human kind to attain this, they likewise use gloves and long socks; a mesh panel at the front allows them to see throughout efficiency. …

Throughout celebrations, the masked egúngún journeys from the shrine or grove to the streets and public centers, accompanied by drummers, vocalists, routine professionals, and crowds of fans. These celebrations reunite forefathers with the living, who ensure the success of their neighborhood by lavishing appreciation and event on the returned loved ones. Spreading out breezes of true blessing in return as it whirls and dances, the egúngún permits the forefathers to take part in today.”

My interest was ignited when I check out that the egúngún custom lives and well in the Yoruba diaspora, consisting of Brooklyn. A fast Web search led me to the awareness that the yearly Isese Celebration including an egúngún masquerade is simply around the corner on Sunday, June 2. It begins at 11: 00 am at Locks of Nu Natural Beauty Parlor, 2000 Fulton Street. The procession will then make its method through the streets of Bed-Stuy. It is strongly on my calendar and I can’t wait to go. If you remain in the New York City location, I motivate you to come, too!

Here’s the welcome from their website: