Sunday, 14 March 2010

Night Time in Ebira culture

In Professor Picton's article 'Cloth and the Corpse in Ebira', he records similar attributes that l presented in my film 'Night'based on my research in Owerri, S.E Nigeria recently - see website

"black, a term that includes the color of indigo dye, is a color with varied associations: the prestige of owning an indigo-dyed gown; the disgusting sight of soot on the face of the smith in this smithy; the dangers of the night as a time of metaphysical activity, including masquerade and witchcraft. "Night" was indeed sometimes used as a euphemism for witchcraft, and sometimes as a metaphor of death; and night is black'.

The other extract from this article reminded me of the function of the Giriama Commemorative Grave Posts l investigated in East Africa but here it is the cloth that acts as the link between the two worlds of the living and the dead, although in both cases the ancestors were very much 'alive'.

"The word eku clearly and literally determined the identitiy of masquerade with the other world. Yet it was the use of itokueta that determined the identity between what had once been a person living in this world and the manifestation of that other domain of existence in masked performance. Dressing in itokueta was the manner in which one entered eku and revisited this world as eku. It was this particular form of textile, whether directly as artifact or indirectly as an idea about an artifact subsisting within an innovative tradition of practice, that manifested and enacted the continuity between living and dead, between ehe and eku."

*Published in Textile Vol 7, Issue 3 pp.296-313

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