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.