Egungun Masquerade costume, Yoruba peoples, Nigeria, mid-20th century.
The materials used in making this piece of art includes beads, glass and metallic threads. The cloth and cowrie shells also forms a major part of this costume. The materials used are of value to the Yoruba people in Nigeria. The cowrie shells are used in the sculpture in order to signify the cultural norms of the Yoruba people especially on the dances and ceremonial activities. The combined use of cowrie shells and the metallic threads are used by the artist to form a unique color and structure in order to appeal to the eyes of the people. This combination of color and material plays an important role in ensuring that the attention of the people is attracted to buy a piece of art. The cloth used is important in that it gives the sculpture an actual appeal and value of costumes in the culture of the Yoruba people.
The artist used materials like glass and cowrie shell sin order to promote the sense of identity of the socioeconomic activities of the Yoruba people. The cowrie shells denote the economic activities and the location as well as the environment in which these people live. This, therefore, plays an important role in ensuring that the economic conditions of the Yoruba can be tracked and traced so as to safeguard the history of such people. The materials used by the artist shows the uniqueness land identity of the Yoruba people in upholding their cultural values.
The use of materials in this sculpture reflects the nature and social life of the ancestors and the descendants indicate their beliefs and customs. This helps in the promotion of the values of the Yoruba people to their future children. The use of colored materials in this sculpture is useful in attracting the visual attention of people so as to analyze this piece of art.
The materials used especially the textile are expensive indicating the value of wealth and adoration attached to the masquerade dances. The power of ancestors is also demonstrated by the concealment of the face in order to hide the identity. This helps the audience to pay respect to the dead and their ancestors. This, therefore, helps to connect the dead to the world of living. The symbols on the sculpture include the emblems of the lion and elephant. The emblem of elephant signifies royalty and power in the Yoruba community. The use of a lion also indicates valor of the masquerade costume. The use of crocodiles also helps to signify the strength in the Yoruba community. The symbol of a peacock was also used to indicate the impact and influence of the foreign materials in the artwork of the Yoruba people.
The patterns of clothing used were unique and helped to bring out the purpose of the costume especially in the use of metallic threads to make sounds that are useful in dances. The costume, therefore, helps the dancers to attract the attention of the audience. This also helps in boosting the entertainment of the audience making them pay close attention to the dances.
The patterns used on the sculpture were used to denote the reactions and responses from the public. The audience will derive easily derive the meaning and purpose of the song or dance depending on the color and clothing used to make a piece of art. The nature of the cowrie shells used on the sculpture is very important to the audience in interpreting the dance or song being presented to them. The use of cowrie shells also indicates the source of wealth and status of the dances in the society. This also symbolizes superiority in the society of the Yoruba people.
The nature of the materials both clothing and glass indicates the importance of such bright materials in attracting the attention of the audience. This will, therefore, help in capturing the attention of the audience in delivery of the intended message. The color of the costume is also important in portraying the cultural aspects of the Yoruba people and what they value in the society.
The texture of the material used shows the skill and expertise used by the artist to design this piece of artwork. The texture also shows how the materials are designed in order to create a unique piece of artwork that can appeal to the senses of the audience.
The use of colors and designs on the costume helped the audience to create an environment where the dead or ancestors are appreciated through the dances. The use of leather and fabric and other materials to make the costumes also helps in denoting the cultural beliefs of the Yoruba people.
The spirit of unity is, therefore, promoted by the use of such costumes in the Masquerade festivals and dances.
In conclusion, the Egungun Masquerade costume has a great influence on how the audience responds to as well as reacting to the nature of materials used. This piece of art has a rich and diverse use of materials in showing the message in relation to the cultural aspects of the Yoruba people in Nigeria. This also involved the use of symbols like elephants and lions to show the strength and value of the Yoruba people. The use materials like cowrie shells also played a crucial role in presenting the message to the audience in a clear and elaborate manner.
“Egungun masquerade costume | Indianapolis Museum of Art.” Indianapolis Museum of Art | Modern, African & Fine Art, Gardens. N.p., n.d. Web. 21 Feb. 2014.
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