Egungun Masquerade

Posted on 14 September 2009 by Babalawo Aworeni


In Ile-Ife, beginning in late June the Egungun masquerades begin to appear.  The Egungun will appear from various compounds in Ile-Ife from the end of June through October.  Many family compound in Ile-Ife participate in the Egungun festivities and own several of the hundreds of different type of Egungun.  A family compound will own an Egungun masquerade depending on the head of the household’s individual odu Ifa, their family lineage or just personal interest and appreciation of the Egungun culture.



There are many different kinds of Egungun, hundreds, bearing many different names.  In Yorubaland the types of Egungun changes from town to town.  For instance,  Egungun is worshiped differently in Ibadan than it is in Ile-Ife.  The procession of Egungun occurs over a period of months and moves from compound to compound.  Some Egungun are only allowed out at night while others come out only in the afternoon or evening.  Each Egungun characteristics depend on family lineage or personal taboos.  In Ile-Ife, the house of Egungun is called Igbale.  There are two primary types of Egungun called Egun Oloro and the Egun Onijo.  Egun Oloro is a male and canes festival goers while Egun Onijo is female and dances with festival goers.  The last Egungun to appear is the most senior Egungun called, Alagba.  The Alagba Egungun will appear before the Olojo festival in October, this festival marks the end of the Egungun procession.

In the Oketase compound, the Egungun masqurade does not appear at the Oketase temple or the Enuwa.  This is because of three very powerful events that occur at this location.  The first event is that which happens during the Odun Elefin festival when the Araba Agbaye transforms into the leopard.  The second event is during the Olojo festival when the Ooni carries the Aare of Oduduwa (the crown) to the Oke Mogun which is located in the Enuwa.  The third event is during the Ijekuru Itapa Obatala or Igbefapade Orisa where the Ooni, the Araba Agbaye and the Obatala shrine meet in January.  For these reasons the Egungun can never appear at this location, if they do pass the Enuwa the Oga will appear and swallow them whole.

In early September, the Araba Agbaye brought out his family’s Egungun appearing at his mother’s compound in Okemarisa.  The Egungun included, Awo Arerungbaga, Obadi Meji, Oori, Oyin, etc.




According to Ifa, Orunmila is the one who took the Egungun from the Iwo Ile, the hole in the earth.  In Okanran Ogunda (Okanranileegun) Ifa explains:

Ore gan gan lo mu egun wole.  Atori gan gan.  Lo mo oro wole Igbale.  Gbagbese mi ogbagbese.  Adifa fun Baba Lamese to mu egun rowaye.

There are many odu Ifa that talk about Egungun, including Oyeku Irete, Iwori Oyeku, Oyeku Pakinose, etc.  The taboos of Egungun is that they can never cane a Babalawo and they can never show their face.  If the Egungun passes the Agbede they must leave coins.  The Egungun can wear any color and they eat akara, ole, obuko, plenty palm oil, obi, and otin.


2 Comments For This Post

  1. Ifagbenusola Aworeni Says:

    Àború àboyè abosíse
    It is always a pleasant joy to see issues like this in this space..
    Thanks Bàbá Owolabi. He who ignores the root, do not know where to go. The humanity born in Oketase, and one day back..
    É séun ooo!

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