Ancestor worship-in-bahia-the-égun-cult

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Information about Ancestor worship-in-bahia-the-égun-cult

Published on March 2, 2014

Author: faderemi



Ancestor Worship in Bahia - The Égun Cult

by Juana Elbein Dos Santos [Elefunde Asipa]
Deoscoredes M. Dos Santos [Mestre Didi Asipa]

Juana Elbein Dos Santos Deoscoredes M. Dos Santos Ancestor worship in Bahia : the Égun-cult In: Journal de la Société des Américanistes. Tome 58, 1969. pp. 79-108. Citer ce document / Cite this document : Dos Santos Juana Elbein, Dos Santos Deoscoredes M. Ancestor worship in Bahia : the Égun-cult. In: Journal de la Société des Américanistes. Tome 58, 1969. pp. 79-108. doi : 10.3406/jsa.1969.2098

ANCESTOR WORSHIP THE IN BAHIA : ÉGUN-CULT by Juana Elbein DOS SANTOS and Deoscoredes M. DOS SANTOS Historical background Brazil is the meeting place of three continents — Africa, Europe, and America. It is well known that during the colonial period of Brazil's his tory, negro cultures were introduced as a result of the slave-trade from the west coast of Africa. The Nagó * constitute the " nations " of West Africa which made the greatest cultural impression on Bahia. Classified by modern ethnology as Yorubá, the Nagó were the carriers of a tradition whose richness was derived from the individual cultures of the different kingdoms of which they were born. This was especially the case of those peoples from Kétu, Qyç, j&gbádo, and Egbá. The Nagó brought to Brazil their traditions and their customs, their hierarchical structures, both secular and religious, their concepts, both philosophical and esthetic, their language, music, oral literature and mythology. Above all else, they brought to Brazil their religion. Bahia, situated on the Atlantic sea-board of Brazil, experienced the greatest cultural concentration of the Nagó. Together with the well-organized cult-houses, where to the present day are preserved the temples and shrines 1. The Yorubá words and texts in this paper are written in accordance with the inter nationally accepted convention used by specialized institutes in Nigeria. One of the aims of the authors are to write down and translate Nagó words, texts, and chants from Bahia. Modern orthography has been adopted in order to rescue the rich oral tradition preserved and transmitted from generation to generation in the Nagó cult houses. Cor rect spelling and translation of words and texts constitute extremely valuable evidence and sources for Afro-Brazilian studies.

80 SOCIÉTÉ DES AMÉRICANISTES of the Ôrisà 2, the Nàgo practiced elaborate funeral rites. Even today they continue to worship not only their family ancestors but also the great figures who founded the cults in Bahia. The latter, known by the name of Èsà, are the first collective ancestors of the Afro -Brazilians. They are worshipped during the Pade or îpade 3, a propitiatory ceremony, and are " assentados " 4, along with other illustrious dead of the sect in a special house. We shall be returning to this later, but suffice it to say that this house is called Ilé-ibo-akú, and is set aside from the other temples in which the Orisà are worshipped. Ancestors who were worshipped in Yoriibá territory 5 are also the object of veneration in Brazil. These ancestors represent family lineages, ruling dynasties, protectors of certain cities and regions, and with special func tions, different aspects of death. Those ancestors who take on bodily forms constitute the Égun or Egúngún. It was around these Égun who had their origins in Africa and were brought to Brazil, that there were formed cult-groups, which had as their counter parts in West Africa the Egúngún cult. The very fact of the existence and perfect preservation of ancestor worship in Bahia, as evidenced by the presence of organized Égun terreiros (cult-areas), permits two important deductions to be made : A. Certainty as to the geographical and cultural origin of some nations which were represented in Bahia. It is well known that the Egúngún cult is especially strong among the Yorubá 6 of those regions inhabited by the Syç, the Ègbâ and the $gbádo. In view of the fact that the worship of the Orisà Sangó is one of the most widespread in Bahia, especially that of Sangó Àfçnjâ of the royal house of Qyç, it would seem appropriate to compare these facts with the statement made by Abraham, " the worship of Egúngún and Sangó is especially widespread in Oyç " 7. Mr. Olajubu 8 refers to the fact that all the lithurgical texts both in the poetry and the chants, related to the Egúngún, made frequent references to a home-land, a sort of country from where the Egúngún descend. ^ In this connection he mentions places such as Ogbón, Ôgbojô, Iresà, Igóri, Ofá, and their respective chiefs. In Bahia, Olôgbojô is one of the best known and 2. Divine entities of the Yoriibá Pantheon. 3. Propitiatory parcel for the use of the deceased in the next world that should be car ried and left in the open air. 4. The act of consecrating a place of worship. 5. The Yoriibá inhabit an extensive region that covers the south-west of Nigeria, parts of southern and central Dahomey, central Togo. There are a few Yorubá settlements also in Ghana and there have been large migrations to Sierra Leone. 6. Relatively recently modern ethnology has grouped under the word Yoriibá diverse clans and tribes all of them speaking a similar language. 7. Abraham, Dictionary of Modern Yoruba, University of London Press, London, 1958, p. 483 (8). 8. O. Olajubu, Egúngún and iwi (The poetry of Egúngún) a preliminary survey. Paper produced by Institute African Studies, University of Ife, 1967, p. 9.

ANCESTOR WORSHIP IN BAHIA Г THE ÉGUN-CULT 81 most venerated Égun. He adds that a classification of the origin of the texts can be made, not merely based on content alone, but by means of the actual technique of recitation used and, of course, local linguistic expres sionswithin the overall dialected norm. He states : " Iwi9 is recited in the central Yorubá language or in the dialect of the Qyç speaking peoples for the Egúngún texts and chants* ". It is not easy to understand these chant not only because of their symbolic content, frequent reference to unknown names, or names which have already disappeared, but also because of the excessive use of archaism and elision. Thus, the Egúngún cult pro vides clear evidence of the strong legacy bequeathed by the Yorubá to Bahia. B. Our second deduction is derived from the published studies of various authors on the Yorubá concept of death10. In general their conclusions are equally applicable to the Yorubá descendants in Bahia. Although the funeral rites constitute one important aspect (as yet not studied in depth) of the Egúngún activities, the specific object of the present study is limited to throwing light on details of the Egúngún cult in Bahia. Already R. Bastide n has pointed out the necessity for specialized monog raphs and those factors which should " have induced ethnographers to take a greater interest in the Egúngún ". There can be no doubt that the available bibliography 12 in addition to being thin, is also grossly incomp lete. This has resulted in frequent errors of fact and seriously misleading interpretations. 9. A name which groups all the chants and texts of the vast oral lithurgical literature related to the Égun-cult. 10. Peter Morton Williams, « Yoruba Responses to the fear of Death ». Africa, vol. XXX, 1960. 11. Roger Bastide, О Candomble da Bahia, Brasiliana, Sâo Paulo, 1961, p. 167. 12. An example of misleading information : In 1940, Protasius Frikel published " Die Seelenlehre des Gege und Nago ", pp. 192-212, in which he asserted that " The Nago do not invoke the spirits of the dead ". Since the mid nineteenth century there already existed in Bahia various Êgun cult-houses of indisputable Nagó origin whereas in 1940 the Terreiro Ilé-Agbóulá in Ponta de Areia, island of Itaparica, was at its hilt and even registered with the police. Of the works that refer to the ancestor cult in Brazil, a basic bibliography includes : Nina Rodrigues : О Animismo Fetichista dos Negros Bahianos, Civilizaçâo Brasileira, S. A., Rio de Janeiro, 1935. — Os Africanos no Brasil, Companhia Editory Nacionál, Sâo Paulo, 1932. Manoel Querino : A Raça Afričana, Livraria Progresso Editora, Bahia, 1955. Joâe do Rio : As Religiôes no Rio, Ediçâo da Organizaçâo Simôes, Rio de Janeiro, 1951. Arthur Ramos : Antropologia Brasileira, I, Rio, 1943. Jacques Raymundo : О Negro Brasileiro e outros escritos, Record, Rio, 1936. Melo Morais Filho : Festas e Tradiçôes Populares do Brasil, Rio de Janeiro. Protasius Frikel : "Die Seelenlehre des Gege und Nago ", Santo Antonio, Bahia, 19401941. José Lima : A Festa de Egun e Outros Ensaios, 3a, ediçâo, Rio de Janeiro, s. d. Robert Ricard : " L'Islam Noir à Bahia ", Hesperis, 1948. René Ribeiro : Cultos Afro Brasileiros do Recife : um Estudo de Ajustamento Social, Boletim do Institute Joaquim Nabuco, numero especial, Recife, 1952.

SOCIETE DES AMERICANISTES Chronology of the introduction of the Egúngún worship into Bahia The first written reference to the presence of the worship of the Égun in Bahia was made by Nina Rodrigues in 1896 13. Despite the serious approach adopted by this pioneer in Afro-Brazilian studies towards the worship of the Ùrïsà, he lacked the basic knowledge and insight to describe, or even to refer seriously to the Egúngún (" a grotesque appearance of the soul of a dead person in the funeral rites ") which at the time of his writing existed and were fully organized. However, oral tradition allows us to ascribe the presence of the Egúngún in Bahia to a much earlier date than 1896. There is evidence of the origin of various " terreiros " founded by Afri cans in the first third of the 19th century. These are as follows : Terreiro de Veracruz : This was situated in the village of Veracruz, the oldest parish of the Island of Itaparica in the Bay of All Saints. It was dedicated to the cult of the Egúngún. An African, known by the name of Tio Serafim, renowned for his knowledge and power, was its founder and chief. He, together with one of his sons and numerous followers invo ked the ancestors. He had brought with him from Africa and was able to make appear the Ěgun of his own father, who had died on the coast of Africa. This Égun was, and is, called Égun Okulele. Tio Serafim died over one hundred years of age, sometime between 1905 and 1910, having founded the cult-house as a young man. Terreiro de Mocambo : This cult-house was also on the Island of Itaparica on the estate called Mocambo, where there were a large number of African slaves. Its chief was the African Marcos Pimentel, known as Marcos-theOld, in order to differentiate him from his son of the same name who, contiPierre Verger : Notes sur le culte des Grisa et Vodun, Mémoires de l'Institut français d'Afri que Noire, n° 51-Ifan-Dakar, 1957. — Grandeur et Décadence du Culte de Iyami Osoronga, Société des Africanistes, 1966. Roger Bastide : О Candomble da Bahia (Rito Nago), Brasiliana, Volume 313, Sâo Paulo, 1961. Deoscoredes M. dos Santos : " Festa da Мае d'Agua em Ponta de Areia- Itaparica ". in Revista Brasileira de Folclore, Campanha de Defesa do Folclore Brasileiro, Ministerio da Educaçâo e Cultura, Ano VI-№ 14, Rio de Janeiro, 1966. Juana Elhein e Deoscoredes M. dos Santos : West African Sacred Art and Rituals in Brazil — A Comparative Study, Institute of African Study, University of Ibadan, versâo mimiografada, Ibadan, 1967. - О Iko nos Ritos de Possessâo de Obaluaiye na Bahia, apresentado no Coloquio Cultos de Possessâo, C.N.R.S., Paris, October 1968. 13. О Animismo Feitichista..., op. cit., p. 156. Nina Rodrigues refers to a masonery in Africa related " with the spirits of the next world ". Later in Os Africanos no Brasil written at the end of the 19th century he makes reference to the apparitions of the Egúngún in the " candombles funerarios ", p. 353.

ANCESTOR WORSHIP IN BAHIA : THE ÉGUN-CULT 83 nuing the tradition established by his father, later founded one of the most important cult-houses of the Égun in Bahia. Mareos-the-Old bought himself out of boundage, and together with Ыь son returned to Africa where he remained many years. During his stay in Africa, Marcos-the-Old continued to perfect his ritual knowledge, and his son Marcos was initiated into all the secrets of the cult, gaining a profound knowledge from original sources. When both returned to Bahia they brought with them the " assento " 14 of the Egun Olúkctún, considered one of the ancestors of the true Yorubá race. Thus they founded the Terreiro do Tuntum (see below). Because of his powers Marcos-the-Old was very feared. According to popular tradition he was sentenced to death by a group of other old pro minent Africans because his practices had resulted in the death of a person. Marcos-the-Old died seven days later on the beach 15. All the necessary preceptual rites, and " obrigaçôes " 16 were performed and his spirit was invoked as an Égun. He is still worshipped with the name of Baba Soadè. Terreiro de Tuntum : This was also situated on the Island of Itaparica in the old settlement of the Africans called Tuntum, the cradle of many who were later to gain prominence in the African sects. Marcos Teodoro Pimentel, the son of Marcos-the-Old, was its chief. Together with his sons and numerous faithful Africans and crioules he founded the cult-house Ilé-Olûkçtun whose name was derived from the patron of the terreiro. The ances tors invoked and worshipped at the cult-house of Tuntum were many. Many of the names of the priests who were members of the cult at the Ilé-Olúkctún are well known. Some are still alive, and many of the descendants conti nueto play an active role in the sect. The Terreiro de Tuntum disappeared with the death of Tio Marcos Teodoro Pimentel in about 1935. As he died almost a centenarian, it can be deduced that the Terreiro de Mocambo headed by Marcos-the-Old, must have existed about 1830. A nephew of Marcos Teodoro, Arsenio Ferreira dos Santos, continued the family tradition and played an active role in other Égun cult-houses. Later he himself founded his own Égun cult-house in the district of Vila America in the city of Salvador. Terreiro da Encarnaçâo : This was situated in the settlement of Encarnaçâo, on the main-land part of the Municipality of Itaparica, to which it belonged at that time. Information as to the identity of the founder is 14. Literally, seat, foundation, support, statute. It is the consecrated place where the Égun is worshipped and receives sacrifices. 15. Deoscoredes M. dos Santos, Contos Crioulos da Bahia, Editora Martins, Sâo Paulo (in press). One of the stories of this book, " О Risco da Morte ", has as its central cha racter Tio Marcos-the-Old. 16. Fundamental rituals and precepts within the lithurgy.

84 SOCIÉTÉ DES AMÉRICANISTES contradictory and confusing. The first chief about whom information is available was a son of Tio Serafim (the founder of the Terreiro de Veracruz). He was called Joâo Dois-Metros because of his extraordinary height. It was at this cult-house that there was invoked for the first time in Brazil the Égun known as Baba Agbóulá, one of the patriarchs of the Yorubá race. Among the priests who were members of this cult-house, one of the most prominent was Qjè Gregorio 17. His nephew, even today as an old man, continues to worship Egun Baba Agbóulá, who had been the patron of the Terreiro da Encarnaçâo. Terreiro do Corta-Braço : This was situated on the Estrada das Boiadas, a suburb of the City of Salvador in the present district of Liberdade. Almost all its members were Africans and its chief was Tio Ôpè. An Qjè of this cult-house, the African Joâo-Boa-Fama 18, was notoiious in Bahia. He initiated some people from the Island of Itaparica and other young people, who many years later, together with the descendants of Tio Marcos and Tio Serafim, were to found the Terreiro lié- Agbóulá which still exists in Ponta de Areia. In addition to the above, other " terreiros " known to exist at the end of the 19th century were the following : One situated in Quitandinha do Capim, renowned for its annual festivals at which were invoked Egun OlùApèlè and Olçjà-Qrun ; the cult-house of Tio Agostinho in Matatu, a meeting place for the most famous Qjè of the period including Tio Marcos and his Ojè ; the Terreiro da Preguiça at the side of the Church of the Conceiçâo da Praia, among whose membership were many Africans ; and finally, there are references to the invocation of Egúngún at Agua de Meninos, but it is uncertain if a cult-house was established there. In connection with the old Égun cult-houses, special reference must be made to Martiliano Eliseu do Bomfm, one of the leading coloured people of Bahia at the beginning of this century. His father Tio Eliseo was an Afri can of Kétu origin, who had brought to Bahia at the beginning of the 19th century the Égun îlàri, the patriarch of his family. While still a boy, Martiliano was sent by his father to Nigeria where he lived many years, gaining deeper knowledge of the cults and learning several languages. After his return to Bahia, he became the strongest advocate for the preservation of the Yorubá traditions in Bahia. He continued the ancestors' cult and took part in numerous " Egúngún terreiros ", and initiated some people into the secrets of the cult. All these cult-houses were in existence approximately between 1820 and 1935 and functioned regularly according to their lithurgical calendars with well defined hierarchies and rituals. The Qjè, priests of the Egúngún cult, 17. Priest of the Égun-cult (see below). 18. Joâo Boa-Fama became a legend of popular tradition. Many stories are told about him and one in D. M. dos Santos, Contos de Nago, Editora G.R.D., Rio de Janeiro, 1963.

ANCESTOR WORSHIP IN BAHIA : THE ÉGUN-CULT 85 knew each other, paid visits to the various cult-houses and participated in ceremonies outside their own " terreiros ". Thus they constituted a brotherhood, a kind of masonery with well-defined characteristics. Both the names and the activities of many of these Qjç are well known. Their direct descendants, and others whom they initiated in the old cult-houses continued to practice the rituals of the cult, and preserved to the present day two cult-houses of the Egúngún which are the only existing in Brazil. The Ilé-Agbóulá on the island of Itaparica was founded during the first quarter of this century and can be traced in a direct line from the old " ter reiros ". The IU-Oya is much more recent and is merely a branch of the former. These cult-houses of the Egúngún inherited from the old " terreiros " not only the lithurgy, and the doctrine, not only the knowledge of the mystery and the secrets of the cult, but also the ancestral Égun who had been on, and worshipped on the old " terreiros ". With the passage of time, these Égun of African origin were joined by those Égun of various Qjç who had died in Bahia and during whose lifetimes had been sufficiently eminent to merit the honour of being the immortal guardians of the Nagó culture. THE EGÚNGÚN CULT The Nagó believe in the immortality of spirits and worship their ancest ors. This worship takes different forms, beginning with elaborate funeral rites which, according to the hierarchy of the dead person and the verdict of Ifá, the ritual oracle, determine the course to be followed by the respec tive spirits. All the spirits of dead people are called Arácrun, in other words, the inhabitants of the çrun 19. In Yorubaland they are also called àwon-ara-ilé, the inhabitants of earth. The spirits of those dead males specially prepared so that their bodily forms can be invoked in determined circumstances and by means of well defined rituals, receive the name of Égun, Egúngún, Baba Égun or simply Baba. The prime object of the Egúngún cult is to make the ancestral spirits visible, to handle the power which emanates from them, and to act as a vehicle between the living and the dead. While upholding the continuity between life and death, the Egúngún cult also maintains strict control over the relationship between the living and the dead, distinguishing complet ely between both ■— the world of the living and that of the dead. In fact, the Baba bring to their descendants and followers the benefits of the bles sing and advice, but they cannot be touched and always remain isolated from the living. Their presence is rigourously controlled by the Qjç and nobody can approach the Egúngún. 19. An abstract conception of something infinite, very distant and large.

86 SOCIÉTÉ DES AMÉRICANISTES The Egúngún appear in characteristic form, totally covered by coloured cloths, permitting the onlookers to vaguely perceive human forms of diffe rent heights and sizes. It is believed that under the strips of cloth which cover the bodily forms is the Ěgun of a dead person, a known ancestor, or, in the event that the bodily form is not recognizable, some aspect related to death. In the latter case the Egúngún represent collective ancestors who symbolize moral concepts and are the guardians of inherited customs and traditions. These collective ancestors are the most respected and fea red of all the Egúngún, keepers as they are of the ethics and moral discipline of the group. A supernatural and mysterious power emanates from the Egúngún. This mystery, awo, is the most important aspect of the Egúngún cult. A chant directly associated with this aspect states : 1. Gégé oro aso la ri, 2. La ri, la ri, 3. Gégé orô aso Içmon, 4. A ko mç Baba. In accordance with the rites cloth (are what) we see, (That which) we see, (that which) we see, In accordance with the rites pieces of cloth (are what) we see, We do not know, father. This text is fundamental to the understanding of the basic concepts of the Egúngún cult. It is directly associated with the mystery of death, awo, and indicates that death or the elements which are extensions of him (in Yorúbá death is a masculine substantive) ,are not, nor can be known. As secrecy of the Egúngún demand, it is not known, nor should one seek to know, what is hidden under the strips of cloth. As has already been stated, only the masculine ancestors can be immortali zed through the Egúngún. Similarly, the priests who deal with the Egún gún are male. Women are completely excluded from all activities related to the Egúngún. Formely, in Yorubaland, one of the functions of the Egúngún groups, was the so called " hunting out the Àje ". The Àje, also known by the name of Iyá-mi (lit. our mothers) or Iya-àgbà (lit. the aged and venerated mothers) 20, are generally aged women capable of possessing extraordinary powers. While the A je represent the collective image of maternity, fertility, fecundity, and the quintessence of life, they also repre sent the persecuting, dominating and aggressive image of that self-same feminine power. The strong matriarchial remnants of Yorúbá society are balanced by the masculine activity of the Egúngún. In the distant past, the Egúngún society also had the purpose of discovering and punishing or banning those old women who used their power in a destructive manner. It is readily apparent that since the function of the Egúngún is to guarantee 20. Pierre Verger, Grandeur et décadence du culte de Iyami Osoronga, op. cit., p. 142.

ANCESTOR WORSHIP IN BAHIA : THE ÉGUN-CULT 87 individual immortality and the immortality of the community by preser vingits social structure by means of the enforcement of its customs and moral precepts, then they cannot fail to be in blatant opposition to a power which can be used for destructive ends. The struggle between the sexes for supremacy is a constant factor in all Yorubá myths and lithurgical texts. The working out of the balance between these two poles is accomplished by institutions, whose latent and manifest contents, permit such an elaborat ion.In the same way as the masculine ancestors have their institution in the Egúngún 21, so have the Iyá-mi their female counterparts, their own institution in the Gçlèdç society 22. According to certain myth Odùa is the deified representation of the Iyámi, the ancestral mother, and the feminine principle from which every thing originates. Thus Odùa corresponds to Obàtalà or Urisálá who is the masculine principle and god of creation. These concepts and divine beings are represented symbolically by a calabash which represents the universe, the lower half being Odùa and the upper half, being Obàtalà. It is pre cisely these deities, the feminine and masculine principles respectively, which appear in all sacred texts where there are references to the Égun. According to these texts, masculine imposition wasn't easily achieved. The man seized supremacy from woman by dint of much patience, no little cunning, and even by violence. Despite the fact that Obàtalà was the first man to cover himself with the cloths of the Egúngún, he only, the consort of Odùa, was sent her bird to control the power which he had acqui red from her 23. Thus the two principles found their balance. Although the women are totally excluded both from the possibility of being immortal ized an Egúngún and from the secret activities of the sect, they hold by some titles and functions within the cult-group. They are keen participants in all cult ceremonies as they offer sacrifices and are allowed, above all, to sing chants characteristic of the Egúngún during the annual festivities. In the same way as the Qjç have a formal greeting, which is characteristic of the sect, so have the women who hold titles their one special manner of greeting. QYA-ÎGBÂL& The power of the bird of the Iyá-mi controll the ancestors. Thus it is no wonder that a female Ôrisa, Oya-Î gbàlç, is the queen and mother of the 21. Peter Morton Williams goes to great length to explain the ambivalent relation between both sexes in his article " Yoruba Responses to the Fear of Death ", op. cit. 22. U. Beier, " Gelede Masks ", Odu, № 6, 1956, " Les Masques Gelede ", in Études Dahoméennes, Nouvelle série, 1966. 23. Text of the Odù Osá Méji : Iyami and the creation of the É gun-clothing, in Pierre Verger, op. cit., p. 200. The Odu are any of the 16 corpses of the Ifá oracular texts, Jfd being the god of prophecy.

88 SOCIÉTÉ DES AMÉRICANISTES Égun. In Bahia also, Oya-Î gbàlç, is worshipped along side the Egúngún. It is she who commands the world of the dead. Various myths have clari fied the relationship of the Baba-Égun with Oya, a shortened version of Oya-Î gbàlç. Egúngún was the ninth son of Oya 24. " The myth relates that Oya was the wife of Ogún and could not have children. She consulted a BabaVawo who revealed that she could only have sons with a man who possessed her violently. So it was that Sàngô took her. Oya had nine sons by him. The first eight were born dumb. Again Oya went and consulted the BabaVawo who told her to make sacrifices. The result was the birth of Egúngún or Égun, who was not dumb, but could only speak with a voice which was not human. " This refers to the unique manner in which the Égun speak, a subject to which we shall return later. One of her oriki 25, also names her îya-mésàn-çrun, Mother-of-the-nineçrun, the nine sons desented in the myth. Qrun is an abstract concept of an infinite, wide and distant place, inhabited by the Arâ-çrun, the ances tralspirits. Of equal importance^ is the relationship which the myth establishes bet ween Sàngô and the Égun. It has already been stated (p. 82) that the cults of Sàngô and Egúngún originated from the same region, Qyó, the land of the Yorùbâ proper. The relationship between Sàngô and Égun is of vital importance but is beyond the scope of the present work. Another myth, whose text forms part of the Odù-Èji-Ologbon, narrates how the secret society of the Egúngún was created. Histories handed down from father to son narrate that the secret-society of the Égun, the worship " the spirits of the of the world, the woman intimidated the man of that of In the beginning ancestors, was created according to the following legend : time and twisted them around their little fingers. For this reason Oya (more commonly known in the Afro -Brazilian cults as Iyâsan) was the first to invent the secret or masonery of the Egúngún in every aspect. Thus, when the women wanted to abase their husbands, they met at a cross-road with Iyâsan in the van. Iyâsan was already there with a big monkey which she had trained. This monkey had been dressed with clothes especially designed for that purpose. The monkey was at the foot of the trunk of an igi (tree) and would perform as was determined by Iyâsan by means of a switch which she had in her hand. The switch is known as the isán. After a special ceremony the monkey appeared performing its skills, as dictated by Iyâsan. This wras done in full sight of the men who ran away terrified b;y that apparition. Finally, one day the men decided to take measures 24. Juana Elbein e Deoscoredes M. dos Santos, versâo mimiografaca, op. cit., p. 38. 25. An attributive name; generally an aglutinated phrase, poem or chant, expressing something heroic or prized. It- defines qualities or particular facts of lineages, gods and divinities.

ANCESTOR WORSHIP IN BAHIA : THE EGUN-CULT 89 to put an end to the continued shame of living under the thumb of the women as they were doing. So they decided to go to the house of Orûmilà (god of the oracle Ifa) to consult Ifá in order to know what they could do to remedy that situation. After consultation Orûmilà explained to them all what was happening, and what steps they should take. Then he sent Ogún to make an offering, ebo, of roosters, a gown, a sword and a used hat, at the cross-roads at the foot of the afore-mentioned tree, before the women met together. No soo ner said, than done. Ogún arrived very early at the cross-roads and did with the roosters as ordered by Orûmilà. Afterwards he put on the gown, put on the hat, and took the sword in his hand. Later on the same day, when all the women had arrived and congregated to celebrate the usual rites, suddenly, at a certain moment, there appeared before them a terrifying form. So terrifying was this apparition that the leader of the women, Iyàsan herself was the first to flee. Due to the strength and power which she possessed she disappeared from the face of the earth forever. Thus, from that time forth the men have domesticated the women and are the absolute masters of the cult. They forbad and still forbid any woman to penetrate the secret of any type of masonic-society. But as the saying goes, "it is the exception which makes the rule ". Thus those very rare cases in which previously women had been allowed to participate in Yorúbá territory, continued and exist under exceptional circumstances. This explains the reason why Iyâsan — Oya — is worshipped and venerated by everybody as the Queen and Founder of the secret society of the Egúngún on Earth " 26. This myth also underlines the priority of feminine power. In Bahia on the Terreiro of Égun, Oya-îgbàlç is worshipped in a special " assento ", a place usually reserved for the celebration of the private rites for Égun. She receives offerings on pre-determined occasions and is wor shipped in the chants and greetings. Her oriki is sang whenever there are celebrations of great importance. The Qjç hold her in great awe. Adé-îgbàlç, the crown of the îgbàlè thus Queen of the îgbàlç, is one of the names by which she is known. One of the oriki clearly defines the extent of her participation and her role in the cult : Oral Form 1. Oya gbàlç 2. Alákoko Analytical Form Oya (î)gbàlç Ala(à)kôko 3. Abiya lake 4. Oni láwa Abiya(mon) lake Oni {aso)láwa(awe) Oya îgbàlç Mistress of the "assento" of the Égun Heir of the high places Mistress of the-stripsof-cloth. 26. This story is J>art of the oral tradition handed down from generation to generation at the cult-house Ase Opó Àfpnjà, situated in Sâo Gonçalo do Retiro, Bahia.

90 SOCIÉTÉ DES AMÉRICANISTES This oriki provides the following information. In line two (2) we are info rmed that Oya-îgbàlç is mistress of the Qpákóko, crook or trunk of the Akoko tree, rammed into the earth, being the place of the " assento " of the ances tors27. Line three (3) informs us that Oya-îgbàlç is the mistress of the high places. This reference is made to the manner in which she controls the wind which blows over the roofs, thereby expressing the agressive side of her nature. This aspect of Oya is complemented by the following saying : a) Aféfé Ikú Wind of Death. b) Efùfùlèlè ti' dá gi Гоке Гоке The rushing of the wind which smashes down trees from the top. Line four (4) informs us that Oya is the mistress of the strips of cloth, symbolic expression of the characteristic clothes of the Baba-Egun. ONÎLË, ÈSÙ AND OsANYÎN It has already been stated that the Arà-çrun are also called in Africa Awon-ará-ilé, inhabitants of the earth. They are worshipped collectively in a special place, a small mound of earth, in the open air, with a branch of a tree stuck into the top of the mound which has been specially prepared for that purpose. This place is called Onilç, the masters of the earth. Onilç, is considered to be a god and is worshipped as such, by the Elegúngún (priests of the Egúngún), since Onilç is the collective representative of the ances tors. He must always be the first to be worshipped and the very first to receive the offerings. He is also the first to be invoked. Both in Bahia and in West Africa the rites of the Égun begin by paying him homage : 1. Onilè ibà re 2. Onilç mo jubà Onilç, Thou are venerated Onilç, I present to thee my humble respects. The ancestors receive also the name of Imolç and are worshipped at the foot of Onilç. For this reason it is said that Onilç is always accompanied by the Imolç. He is held as the god of justice. Oaths are sworn and agreements are made in his name. His pronounce ments accepted without appeal. It is believed that Imolç is extremely are severe in the punishments he metes out to those who do not fulfill the pro mises made in his name. Finally Èsù and 0sanyin are two entities who are also worshipped by the Elegúngún. Èsù is ubiquitious. He moves both in the world of the living and of the dead. The myths attribute to him the role of inspector general and reports on the way in which the sacrifices and rites are conducted. He 27. See description below, Opákoko.

ANCESTOR WORSHIP IN BAHIA : THE ÉGUN-CULT 91 is the carrier of all requests and supervises and informs Olçrun (the supreme god) about all the offerings. A detailed analysis of Èsù permits a compari son made between his characteristics and those of the ancestors. He to be also represents the power of the ancestors and embodies one of their most important aspects — the continuity of life. This latter aspect makes Èsù, like the ancestors, a propitiatory entity and together with Onile and Imole he has priority on invocations and sacrifices. He is " assentado " in the open air protecting the entries to houses, small holdings and villages. Or he can have his " assentos " inside the houses prepared with composite mixtures which sometimes may take on a peculiar anthropomorphic form. Because of his propitiatory qualities, Èsù receives together with the Araçrun and the Egun the first fruits, befitting not only fertility but also sexual potency. He is often represented with an enormous phallus ; on other occasions he is represented with a characteristic head-dress, a phallic trans ference. This same phallic transference is apparent in his most important attribute — his Ogo. The Ogo is a short thick club with a sort of knot or head at one end. This characteristic attribute of Èsù, the subject of many myths, is only used by Èsù and by some Égun. The Pade is a name of a special rite during which a propitiatory parcel (called in Yoruba ipade) is carried out to invoke all the male and female ancestors, together with Èsu and all other kind of spirits, so that they will come to receive the offerings of the load (each of whose component parts is highly symbolical and directed at satisfying the invoked entities and there by obtain from them the desired benefits) and will not interfere in the to ceremonies to be realized. This rite is performed on those " terreiros " where the Ôrisà are worship ped. Great care is taken so that during the invocation of the Ôrisà there is no interference by non-deified beings. In the Ôrisà cult-houses also, before the beginning of the Àsèsè, funeral rites, the Pade is performed in order to propitiate, and above all to permit without interference, the comp letion of the ritual of the " assentamento " of the new spirit. On the contrary, on the " terreiro " of the Égun where the ancestors are invoked, the dispatching of the Pade is not necessary. In fact, the cer emony of the Pade which is so vitaly important in the cult-houses of the Ôrisà, does not constitute part of the lithurgy of the É gun-cult. This essential difference between the Ôrisà and the Égun is well brought in the words of a chant sung in Africa during the Egúngún festivals : 1. Egúngún Га me We are worshipping Egúngún 2. Awa o soom We are not worshipping the Ôrisà 3. K'alaso funfun Those dressed in white clothes shippers of Ôrisà) 4. Kúro Vagbo wa Must stay away from our circle. It has already been said that Èsù moves both in the world of the living and of the dead. He is the intermediary and messenger both for the Ôrisà

92 SOCIÉTÉ DES AMÉRICANISTES and for the ancestors. Thus he is worshipped, with due precautions, be it lésé Orisà or lésé Égun 28. The Egúngún performs all the functions of a Babaláwo, priest versed in the technique, understanding and interpretation of the Ifá oracle. The Babaláwo reads the message transmitted by the positions of the cowrieshells or of the çpèlè 29. The Egúngún is the direct voice of the ancestor. His word is sacrosanct. He replays to all who come to consult him, giving advice, settling legal questions, ordering sacrifices to be made, prescribing rites to be performed and different types of purification. In the majority of the prescriptions the use of leaves is indispensable. Just as leaves are indispensable in all the rites of initiation into the cult. Since Osányin is the owner of all the leaves, the patron of medicine, his participation in the " terreiro " of Egun is essential. In summary it may be said that in the .Egim-cult-house not only are the Égun themselves worshipped, but also Onilè, Imolè, Oya-îgbàlè, Èsù and Qsányin. THE EGÚNGÚN CULT-HOUSE Every Egúngún terreiro must have an Onilè, a mound of earth in the open air, generally situated very close to the Ilé-awo, the house of the secret, were are the other " assentos " of the cult. This house may only be used by the initiated and is near to the "barracâo" (permanent pavilion for the public ceremonies). The Ilé-awo contains the Lésànyin or îgbàlè. The geographical area of the " terreiro " of the Egúngún-cult can be separated into three units each with its specific function : A. Those places frequented without restrictions by all the followers of the cult and participants at the public ceremonies. This unit is consti tuted by a part of the " barracâo ", the open-space both in front and at the sides of the " barracâo " and the space in front of the Onilè. B. Those places to which the Egúngún come to participate in the festi vals and which can only be frequented by initiates or people accompanied by initiates. It is in these places that the Baba receive offerings, fulfill some of their prescribed rites, dance, sing, give blessings and deliver messages. This unit comprises another part of the " barracâo " and the open space between the Onilè and the Ilé-awo. In that part of the " barracâo ", strictly reserved for the appearance of the Égun, is the throne and chairs which the Baba use during the public ceremonies. This unit also includes the anteroom of the Ilé-awo, where the Qje meet with the other initiates. Here it is that the first rites of initiation take 28. Sustainers of the Orisà, sustainers of the Égun ; in the cult of the Orisà, in the cult of the Égun. 29. Divining-chain of Ifá, god of the oracle of prophecy. This chain is comprised of 8 palm-seeds, having a concave and a convex side each.

ANCESTOR WORSHIP IN BAHIA : THE ÉGUN-CULT 93 place. It is the social-room of the Ojè. This place is closed to non-init iates. In this anteroom is the " assento " of Èsù since it has to be at the entrance door of the Ilé-awo. Near to this assento is that of Qsányin. С. The third unit is the Lésànyin or îgbàlè. This can only be frequented by the senior Ojè versed in all the secrets of the cult and who therefore are fully conditioned to be able to deal with those situations directly related to the mystery of the sect. Here it is that the ancient Égun, Égun-Àgbà, are " assentados ", were the new Egun are prepared, and where all the Egun are invoked. The îgbàlè, which in Africa were a glade in the secret forest, in Bahia is an isolated building in which are performed the private and secret rites of the cult. All the decisions of the sect are taken at the îgbàlè. Only the most senior Qjè may enter it. In Bahia the îgbàlè, more commonly pronounced Bàlè, is abo called Lésànyin : lié -f- ésàn -j- y in, the house of worship of 1 y à- m es an- çr un, or the house of worship of Mésàn-çrun, in other words, the worship of the children of Oya, the Arâ-çrun and the Égun. On no account must the Ilé-ibo-akú, the house of worship of the dead lésé Ôrisà, be confused with the Lésànyin, the house of worship of the Égun lésç Égun. In the Ilé-ibo the spirits of the Adósíi, priestesses initiated in the cult of the Ôrisà, are worshipped. In the Lésànyin the Arâ-çrun in general and the spirits of those initiated into the mystery of the Egun are worshipped. Qtç ni Égun, çtç ni Orisà This phrase repeated by Baba-Egun in various occasions means that the Egun are totally different from the Orisà. Similarly the funeral rites and the " assentamento " of the dead people are different in the two cults 30. The attendance of the Égun at different funeral ceremonies held on " terreiros " of Orisà is due to exceptional circumstances. In such cases the invocation and appearance of the Égun occurs in places separate and exclu sively prepared for such functions. Conversely, on the " terreiro " of Égun there may be a house or place of worship dedicated to the Orisà. Such a place is totally independent of those houses dedicated to the worship of the Egúngún. During the Àsèsè of a senior priestess of the Ôrisà, on the night of the 6th to the 7th day of the funeral ceremony, when the spirit of the dead priestess is invoked, the spirit may appear accompanied by certain senior Égun, protectors of the " terreiro ", ancestor of certain family-lineages. 30. It should be noticed that the assento registered by René Ribeiro in Recife at the (Ig)Bàlè are correct and are not substitutes of the « assentos " at the Ilé-ibo (confused with the Lésànyin, " Ile-Saim " as spelt by Bastide) which are very different. Roger Bastide, op. cit., Footnote on page 88. René Ribeiro, op. cit., page 40.

94 SOCIÉTÉ DES AMÉRICANISTES These Egúngún escort the new spirit, communicate its last orders and will be responsible for taking it and separating it from the egbe, the community of the cult. Two ceremonies of these type occurred at the terreiro Àse Opó Afonjá, on the occasion of the funeral ceremonies of the famous Iyâlorisà Мае Aninha, Oba Bíiyií, and Мае Senhora, Qsun Múiwá, the Íyá-Ňasó of the above mentioned À se 81. In the Lésànyin are the places of worship of the venerated entities. Theie too are kept the sacred objects essential for the invocation of the Égun. The îgbàlç contains the £)pá-Kóko : Opá -- Акоко, a preceptual staff made from a thick branch of the Акоко tree, or in the absence of this, from any other sacred tree. The staff is stuck into the earth. The Акоко tree is one of those trees worshipped in Yorubaland. The Dictionary of the Oxford University Press notes, " its leaf is placed on the head of a new king or chief as annointement. The tree is so sacred that it is never used for fire or tou ched with an axe... " 32. Abraham also says : " it is commonly seen around (the) igbo-igbàlè" 33. In fact, the cult of trees is one of the oldest cults in Yorubaland. Thus many myths begin with the phrase, " in an age when man adored trees... " Elégbé bogi is the oriki used for tree-worshippers. Some of these sacred trees are used for different ritual purposes. In certain cults and in funeral ceremonies, tree-trunks are used as substitutes for the dead. Branches are found in places where the ancestors are worshipped. We also find in such places slender switches called isan. In the hands of the Qjè these serve to invoke the ancestors. In Africa, in front of the big temples, is a spe cial spot where the ancestors are worshipped : here stands the Opá which represents them collectively. The Qpá, branches, staffs or ritual sceptres, are of vital importance in the Egúngún cult. A chant sung by^ the Egúngún in Bahia, allows us to infer the importance attributed to the Qpá : Olo'run Olçrun Olççpa Olorun Olçrun, the supreme god is the master of the Opá. It is as if Qlçrun has delegated part of his own power to the Opá. Also in the Lésànyin, but completely independent of the Qpákoko, the collective representation of the ancestors, are the individual " assentos " of some Égun-àgbà. These are clay pots, with special shapes having very wide 31. José de Lima, op. cit., describes one of the funeral rites, " obrigaçôes ", of^ the Iydlàrïsà Мае Aninha. We should insist that this description does not refer to an Égun Festival, but to an extraordinary " obrigaçâo " at an Orisà cult-house at which the Égun appeared executing one of his functions during funeral rites for an Adósii. 32. A Dictionary of the Yoruba Language, Oxford University Press, London, second edition, 1950, London, p. 27. 33. R. C. Abraham, op. cit., p. 44.

ANCESTOR WORSHIP IN BAHIA Г THE EGUN-CULT 95 mouths. These pots contain a solid mixture made up of ritual elements. Such " assentos " are completely different from the " assentos " of the Ilé-ibo lésé Ôrisà. The pots of the "assentos" of the Égun are laid on a low bench of earth, called pèpéle. In front of the Opákoko and the individual " assentos " are very small holes called ojúbo. In these holes are placed and sprinkled at the beginning of the ceremony, a little of each offering. It is precisely in the îgbàlè that the Qje invoke the Egúngún. For this purpose they use the isan, or ritual switch ; grasping this firmly in their right hands, the Oje strike the earth three times, at the same moment as they pronounce the secret formulas. At the third such invocation the Égun should reply. Since inhabitants of the earth, then it will be precisely from the earth that the Egúngún should surge forth. The isan is a stick about 1.60 mts. long. It may be made from branches from the Atari (Glyphaea Lateriflora) 34, a tree specially noted for its hard ness, or from the mid-rib of the fronds of the Igi-Qpe (Elacis Guineensis) 35, oil-palm. The isan is an Qpá which has been ritually prepared and is the only means by which an Égun can be controlled and kept at a distance. Since the isan represents the ancestors and is of their same nature, it pos sesses the necessary qualities to deal with them. The Qjb use isan not only to call the Égun, but also to guide them, and finally to dismiss them by means of formula known only to them. Depend ing the circumstances, the Ojb can invoke the Égun in any other place on besides the îgbàlè. Although the Baba-Égun usually comes out from the Lésànyin, he can also appear in other places if circumstances demand, but it is rather exceptional for this to happen. The Oje not only control the Égun through the isan but also separated the Égun from the world of the living. An isan placed horizontally on the floor stops the Baba from going beyond that place where the isan lies. The isan can also be held by the Égun as a whip. Such an occasion is an event to be feared because it suggests the anger of the ancestors and the punish mentwhich he may impose. The isan are kept in the îgbàlè and must always remain upright. A group of isan placed upright arranged like the frame of a wigwam, crossing each other just below the points, indicates the presence of the Qjf in that area and warns the passers-by and local inha bitants of the rites to be imminently performed by the members of the sect 36. 34. R. C. Abraham, op. cit., p. 77. 35. R. C. Abraham, op. cit., p. 523. " annunchans " Rio mentions " the twigs " and also " the marmelo-twigs " held by the 36. Joâo do (Amúisan) and held by the Ěgun, As Religiôes no Rio, op. cit., pp. 48-49. Also Manuel Querino documents " with a small switch he hit the floor 3 times which is the equivalent of invoking the spirit of the dead ". A Raça Afričana, op. cit., p. 9^7.

96 SOCIÉTÉ DES AMÉRICANISTES HIERARCHIES The members of a " terreiro " of the Egúngún form a male secret society. Each of these societies possesses a site and an organization of its own. In view of the fact that all the priests of all the Egúngún terreiros are initiated into a common secret, so do they belong to a masonery which makes them all brothers. The organization of the various " terreiros " differ little one from the other. We can distinguish various categories of members depending on the re spective degrees of initiation, length of membership, and specific duties. The passage from one category to another is delineated by well denned rituals and can only be achieved depending on the individual behaviour of the members and the vote of acceptance by the elders. It is the elders who decide if the personal qualities and the behaviour of the novices permit them to be further initiated into the cult-mysteries. AMÚISAN The novices constitute the group of the Amúisan 37, as this name indi cates they are bearers of the isan. They don't know the secret of the sect, the awo, nor do they know the secrets of the invocation of the Baba-Égun. They are only allowed to enter the anteroom of the Lésànyin ; they do not know the îgbàlè, nor do they know how the " assentos " of the new Égun are pre pared. They look after the " barracâo " and the surrounding area and carrying the isan they keep the adepts separate from the Égun. They are responsible for the preparation of the public-places during the festivals and basically perform minor tasks, accompanying and helping the The Qjç of the future will be chosen from the Amúisan. Thus it is one step through which every Qjç must pass. Not all Amúisan move beyond this category ; there are some old members of the cult who continue being Amúisan. In Bahia initiation into the cult of Egúngún is hereditary in some famil ies38. The candidacy of other future Amúisan are promoted by some 37. A Dictionary of the Yoruba Language, Amman " The one which holds the Isan (spiral striped switch) in front of an Egúngún ", op. cit., p. 37. Abraham records, Amúnsón : " That which manages a switch ison... used during the Egúngún ceremony ". 38. It has already been mentioned that the Ojè Joâo-Dois-Metros, chief of the Terreiro da Encarnaçâo was the son of Tio Serafim chief of the Terreiro of Veracruz ; Marcos Teodoro Pimentel, chief of the Terreiro of Tuntun was the son of Tio Marcos-the-Old, Chief of the Terreiro Mocambo, the Ojè Eduardo Daniel de Paula, Chief of the Terreiro lié Agbóulá was the son of Tio Manoei Antonio, Ojè of the Terreiro of Tuntun.

ANCESTOR WORSHIP IN BAHIA : THE EGUN-CULT 97 senior Qjç or a candidate may be chosen by an Égun. Finally, special ci rcumstances in the life of a boy or adolescent may oblige the family to have him initiated. On yet other occasions, also due to certain specific events, the BabaVawo is consulted and may recommend, after consulting the Ifá-oracle, that the person should be initiated into the cult. In all such cases, it is only after the vote of the senior Qjç and the approval of the Égun, that the can didate can be initiated. The initiation at lésé Orisà is totally different from the initiation lésç Égun. Whereas the novice lésç Ôrisà, is being prepared as an Adósu in order to receive the Orisà by means of possession, the Amúisan is prepared so that, as an Qjç, he shall share and be initiated into a mystery. The state of possession is incompatible with the duties and practices of an Qjç. The Qjç constitute the priestly body of the cult. They are initiated into a secret which they must keep above all else. They are united by a pact between themselves and between them and the spirits. This pact is sacro sanct, immutable and permanent. The oath which binds the Qjè to the cult forever is sealed by the introjection of earth, leaves and of a ritual beverage which contains symbolic el ements which render this union unbreachable. The most important obli gation which the Qjç undertakes at oath is silence, not to reveal the awo. In the old days failure to fulfill the clauses of the oath could result in punish mentand even in death. Failure to fulfill the terms of the oath, or indescretion on the part of the Qjç are severely punished. By the pact which he has made with the earth and with the spirits the Qjç submits himself to their judgment. The initiation of the Amúisan to become an Qjç begins in the " barracâo " where he is presented by two Qjç-àgbà to the public. Once the ritual chants have been sung in the presence of all the Qjç, the Amúisan who is the central figure of the ceremony, hands over the animals and ether elements which will be offered and used during the initiation rites. The offering of a quadruped is indispensable. The Amúisan is naked from the waist up, is barefoot, his trousers are rolled up and he has been blind folded with a new, white towel. He is led by one of the Qjç-àgbà out from the " barracâo ". Still blind-folded, he is led towards the Ilé-awo while the following chant is being sung : 1. Olo'run awo 2. Bàlç Olçrun awo ' 3. Bàlç Olo'run (is the) mystery (the secret) Igbàlç is the mystery of Olo'run The îgbàlç

98 SOCIÉTÉ DES AMÉRICANISTES The blind-fold will only be taken off much later in the anteroom of the Lésànyln. This only done once the extensive ritual, which the Amúisan sees nothing of, has been completed. Only once the ritual drink has been embided, the questioning satisfied, the solemn oath been taken and the annointment with the blood of a sacri ficed animal (which bring to perfection the indestructability of the union) being performed, only then because he is now capable of sight, is the blind foldremoved. Still the new Oje does not enter the îgbàlè. Before he can enter the îgbàlç, he will have to train in order to acquire deeper religious experience. Some times it will even be necessary for him to undergo a new ceremony. During this period he is under the supervision of one of the Ojç-àgbà who guides the new Ojç in his knowledge. Frequently the new Qjp receives the title of Qtún (first assistant to a holder of a title). In due course he will suc ceed to the title of the Ojç-àgbà whose Qtún he is. The members of the cult of the Egúngún are known by various names, In Bahia the designation of the-guardian-of-the-Qpá as Agbó-Qpá is un known. The Qjç is also known as Màriwo n. The relationship of this name with the Màriwo, palm-fronds of Igi-Qpe or Igi-Qgçrç, shredded from the mid-rib of the leaf, has yet to be established. These latter Màriwo are used for many purposes in the cult and are always present whenever there is any event associated with death or extraordinary dangers. " Their function is to isolate and to protect. During the funeral ceremonies the Màriwo are placed at all doors and windows... Màriwo are also placed round the arms of the priests and the followers in order to give them immunity and to keep the spirits at a distance. Ogùn, hunter, warrier, and merciless executioner, who was the object of veneration of a secret masculine society, as well, also is bedecked with the Màriwo to insulate his destructive power. Curtains made of Màriwo are placed in front of shrines as means of affording protect ion... These Mariwo curtains have a preventive purpose in the cults. They notify everybody of the presence of imminent danger, obstructing the entry to those places where the treatment of the supernatural is delegated to initiates prepared for such functions. The presence of Màriwo also indi cates the existence of something which must remain hidden, a forbidden mystery which inspires respect and fear, some secret which can only be shared by those initiates specifically trained for this purpose " 40. The name Màriwo, (in the context of being synonymous with Qjç), applied to initiates into the secret of the Egúngún, appears in various myths and ritual chants. 39. Abraham, op. cit., p. 428 quotes : Monriwó. 40. Juana Elbein e Deoscoredes M. dos Santos, " O iko nos ritos de possessâo de Obalúaiyé na Bahia ", op. cit.

ANCESTOR WORSHIP IN BAHIA : THE EGUN-CULT 1. Biri-biri bo won lójú 2. Qgbèri nko mo Màriwo 99 Darkness covers their eyes Those who have not been initiated can not know the mystery of the Màriwo Another chant, used in Yorubaland, refers to the palm-fronds in connection with the Égun-cxút. 1. Màriwo çpé у о méfà lôkè 2. Ijó awo pé o àgbà çjç The six new leaves which shoot forth from the heights of the palm-tree Announce to the senior Qjç the day of the mystery. This chant explains that the birth of the six Màriwô-îronds indicate the day on which the Qje-àgbà must hold the festivals. The elders In Bahia, the highest position in the hierarchy of each " terreiro " is the Alágbd. He is the most senior Oje of his " terreiro ". There is unanimity among those few scholars who have described the Égun-cult as to the exis tence of the title Alágbá and his respective functions 41. He is known as : Alágbá Baba Màriwo Alágbá, father of the Màriwo His senior assistant is the Qtún-Alágbá (" his right-hand man "). In Bahia the Qtún assumes the post of Alágbá on the death of the title-holder. Subor dinate to these in the hierarchy is a group of title-holders. Their import ance depends more on the seniority of the Qjç than on the title itself. Some very senior Ojç who are highly respected within the cult may have no special title other than that of Qjç. All the incumbents of the above positions are known by the generic des ignation of Àgbà-Qjç. In the same way as the Alágbá is the head of the " terreiro ", the Alápini is the head of all the masonery 42. There are as many Alágbá as there are " terreiros " of Égun. But there can only be one Alàpini. Hence the saying : Alàpini îpekun Qjç Alapini the absolute title-holder. 41. Reverend Samuel Johnson was one of the first to document the title and describe its function, The History of the Yorubas, C.M.S., (Nigeria) Bookshops, Lagos, 1966, p. 29. 42. Johnson states that the Alàpini was a noble-man " sharing the most important privileges of the house of Oyo ", op. cit., p. 30.

100 SOCIÉTÉ DES AMÉRICANISTES The word ipekun means supreme and absolute post In Bahia, because of the lineage of the Aldpini, this gnition of merit, on one of the end, completion, final limit, signifying the in the hierarchy. non-existence of known royal-houses nor of the title is not hereditary. It is bestowed in reco the Alágbá 43. MALE ÎJÔYÈ Certain titles, oyè, are given to people who are followers of the cult. In some cases they are relations of the £fjç. In others they are given the titles because of their prominent position in the negro-social life of Bahia or because of the services which they rendered to the cult and which make them sui table subjects to receive such honours. The titles are bestowed in public ceremonies by the Baba-Égun in person and must be confirmed by the appropriate ceremonies which include the handing over of the preceptual offerings. It is a tradition that the new holder of the title should present a new chair on the occasion of his installation. From then on this will be his official chair in the " barracâo ". The title-holders constituted the group known as the îjôyè 44. ALÁGBE Independent of all the above mentioned categories every " terreiro " has its own group of Alágbe, the drummers who perform during the festivals. They are chosen by the Egun in the first instance and their appointment is confirmed by specific rites. They may or may not be chosen from among the group of the Amúisan. In Bahia, the drummer is not a professional. On each " terreiro " there is an Alágbe with his assistants, Qtún and Osi (lit. right and left), an ago go player and another who plays the sçkçrç 45. They are the official players and are responsible for the ritual instruments of the " terreiro ". They know every type of beat, greeting and the ritual chants, specifically for each and every Ěgun. 43. One of the most illustrious Alápini was Marcos Teodoro Pimentel, chief of the Terreiro of Tuntun. 44. Ijôyè or Àjùyè is the way that this word is pronounced at the lié Agbóulá, The first one registered by Abraham under Oyè, op. cit., p. 497. 45. The agogo is an iron percussion instrument with a double mouth. Any piece of iron beaten by an iron rod would serve the same purpose, it is also known under the name of gan in Bahia. This word is of Fon origin and it appears in R. P. B. Segurola's, Dic tionnaire Fon-Français, Procure de l'Archidiocèse, Cotonou, 1963, p. 176. The sèkèrè is a calabash covered with a net of cowries or beads.

ANCESTOR WORSHIP IN BAHIA Г THE ÉGUN-CULT 101 FEMALE ÎJÔYÈ Some women are also holders of important titles. Althuiigh they are absolutely forbidden from participating in the secret of the Lésànyin, they fulfill specific functions in the cult and are highly respected in the commun ity.The higher ranking post in the hierarchy which are open to women in Bahia are : Îya-Egbé : She is the leader of all the female participants. It is she who receives all the information concerning the cult and it is she who is res ponsible for carrying out the wishes of the Égun. She is the first to be greeted by the Baba. Usually she is an old person who occupies a promi nentposition in the community. Like the Alágbá the îya-egbe has her own Qtún-and Osi. Îya-Mondç : She is the leader of the female worshippers of the Egúngún. She passes on all the requests and messages made by the women to the Baba. She is the most frequent leader of the ritual chants entoned by the women. She also by means of chants can solicit the presence of the Égun. She too has her Qtun and Osi. Îya-Agçn or îyàgan : She is responsible for receiving and handing over the offerings made to the Égun. She too has her Qtún and Ôsi. Other titles with various duties are : Íyálé-Alágbá, îyakekeré, îyalçjà, Íyámoro, Íyá Mon-Yoyo, Elémasó. THE EGÚNGÚN Classification, speech, clothing and preceptual rites The Qjç are intermediaries between the living and the dead. They are responsible for making the spirits visible and making them appear publicly. This is the main object of the initiation of the 0jç. An Qjç learns to deal with the nry stery of death and with the derivative relations. He learns the secret of the invocation and handling of the dead. The well-known scholar Ulli Beier has written, " the spirit which is being worshipped is considered to be neither good nor evil but is conceived as a po

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