Efe ('Joker' Headdress)


By: Adenike Cosgrove Tagged:


The Efe ceremony is held annually in conjunction with the Gelede festival across western Yorubaland including the villages and cities Ketu, Egbado, Ohori, Anago and Awori. Before the Gelede festival takes place in the afternoon, the Efe ceremony is held the night before with the aim of appeasing the 'Great Mother' (Iyanla), to pray for generosity but also to satirise unappealing social behaviours. Unlike Gelede headdresses, which are generally homogenous throughout Yorubaland, Efe masks vary in style and form considerably across the various Yoruba regions and sub-ethnic groups; these include Oro Efe (meaning 'voice of Efe'), Ate Efe (found in Egado regions), Apasa (also called Agasa, the male mask (Akogi) found in Ohori) and Iyanla ('Great Mother' female mask (Abogi) considered the most sacred Gelede mask) to name a few.

Similar in function to Oro Efe headdresses of Ketu region, Apasa headdresses are found predominately in Ohori. They serve as the central singing masquerades of the Efe ceremony.

Distinguishing Features

  • Made of wood
  • Broad, often striped beard that fans out extending beyond width of headdress
  • Beard sits along edge of jaw
  • Painted with horizontal or diagonal stripes
  • Two long, blade- like, vertical projections (machetes - ada)
  • Some Apasa headdresses have guns, knives or blades attached to the vertical protections

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