Ancestor Staff

Egungun masquerade costume
I had started gathering materials to dress my ancestor staff. It is currently unadorned and was made by my own hands six months ago.

Inspiration has now spurred me to finish the staff by dressing it.

I recalled that I needed nine coloured ribbons, bells, beads and such, and as I described to my friend how I intended to use ribbons of about 12” in length, she looked shocked.

“No,” she replied. “That would look like a hula skirt!” She then proceeded to explain to me that traditionally dressed staffs have long ribbons completely covering the length, resulting in a look similar to Cousin It from the Addams family.

The Egun Staff (Opá Egun) is traditionally received from godparents and prepared with various ceremonies. However, until I get to that stage, mine is a representation, thus I call it Ancestor Staff.

After a search on Google for images of Egun staffs returned nothing like she had described, Omimelli went on to explain where the ‘dressing’ for the Egun staff seemed to have derived from.

The ‘dressing’ of the Egun Staff mimics the costumes worn by the Egugun during the Egungun masquerade in Nigeria, and more recently, in Trinidad. The Egungun represent the spirits of the dead, and as such, are clothed completely from head to toe in multicoloured cloth, disguising the fact that a living person is underneath the costume.

My ancestor staff is meant to call on my own lineage of ancestors and now that I have more of a logical explanation as to why use more length on the ribbons, I am quite set to start my handy work.


6 Replies to “Ancestor Staff”

  1. Very good article that was written, in the Yoruba tradition it is call isansan eggun, were nine sticks are tied together to represent the Opa Iku(the death stick).

  2. Aboru aboye abosise
    Onilè Iba re
    Onilè mo júbà o..
    Egúngún my imortal guardian, Iba o.. Iba oo.. Iba ooo…
    We worship the ancestors… Why do we worship our ancestors? Simple, I am the result of the sum of all those who come before my born.. The cloth of the secret, or the secret of the cloth, represent one identity or essence. Represent the continuity of life, I say this, because us only die really, when we us forgotten.. And the clothes through its symbolism keeps alive a certain identity. So if this is so, it would be correct to say that she is the antithesis of death, not death itself. The death[Ikú or Òjègbé-Aláso-Òna] has his own clothes, and certainly not the same as Egúngún. We should also pay attention to the following detail, there are several types of Egúngún. The Egúngún are the guardians of family, is our root.. Life and death are equals.. Sàngó and Egúngún are two sides of same coin, the first represents dynasty, but the second represents ancestrality.. The Màrìwòs [Ojés] often say that: – Who knows does not speak, who speaks does not know. True or not, I do not know.. 😉

    ” Gégé orò aso la rí..
    La ri, la ri..
    Gégé orò aso lèmon..
    A ko mò Bàbá”..

  3. Why is it important to worship ancestors? One must know ones origins in order to know where one is headed. Our feet rest upon the shoulders of those who have come before us. Blessed be the land that nourishes us, for we feed upon the wisdom of our ancestors.

    With humble heart and a praise to my own Egúngún,

    Oní Yemayá Achagbá

    PS. My ancestor staff has a pretty Sancofá bird atop. 🙂

  4. I’m new to all this and have been learn g more and more each day , I am drawn to this religion as it is my purpose in life ,, I as a young child have always been inclined to lean toward Santeria as a faith and worship and now I am trying to be adopted and taken in and taught as a child by my god parents.

    1. Stavro,

      As part of the blog policy, all posts with email addresses get on pending list. If you have any questions ask them here on the blog, but do not include an email address. It is nice to know that you are happy on your spiritual path.


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