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June and July is the time for Egunguns come out to pay homage to their King

Osogbo, headgear of an Egungun
Osogbo, headgear of an Egungun
Black shiny skulls top the colourful red-caped outfit of a human powered costume, the one of an Egungun which embodies the ancestral spirit of a family. The person in charge of giving life to the Egungun under that costume is at some point possessed by the spirit and fall into a trance while dancing at the beat of the drums. Egunguns are said to be unpredictable during their trance and possibly wild.
However, in normal times, I have seen some keen to accept cash that they collect with their gloved hands.
the guardian of the Egungun dancing at the palace of the Oba in Osogbo
the guardian of the Egungun dancing at the palace of the Oba in Osogbo
The costume is kept in a room and can have some additions or repairs over time but it is mostly a relic with some extremely old parts. Some charms are sewn over it and the face is replaced by a tightly woven net for the Egungun to see without being seen.
Egunguns are always accompanied by a guardian who will follow them and dance with them.
no drums, no party in Yorubaland
no drums, no party in Yorubaland
In June and July, Egungun festivals take place in several towns in Yorubaland. During that period, corresponding to the beginning of the small rainy season, each family go with their Egungun to pay their homage to the Oba or the King of the place (for instance the Oba of Osogbo or the Alaafin of Oyo).
an Egungun paying his homage dance to the Oba of Osogbo
an Egungun paying a homage dance to the Oba of Osogbo


















Every town has a good number of Egunguns so the festivities last over several week and can culminate in a show where all Egunguns congregate as it is the case in Oyo at the end of July. In Osogbo, it seems that the presentation to the Oba is made on an ongoing basis. We happened to witness the opening of the festival with two similarly clad Egunguns, one much taller than the other.
Osogbo, the two Egunguns opening the festival
Osogbo, the two Egunguns opening the festival

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