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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Diffusion of 'upo' funerary and 'egungun' textiles in the Niger-Benue confluence area
Author:Akinwumi, Tunde M.
Periodical:Lagos Historical Review
Geographic term:Nigeria
culture contact
cultural history
mercantile history
Peoples of Africa (Ethnic Groups)
Architecture and the Arts
History and Exploration
Abstract:The tendency to borrow and adopt cultural traits among groups in Nigeria's frontier communities has been a regular practice. An example of this is the 'egungun' ancestral worship in the Niger-Benue confluence area. This paper joins in the controversy on the origins of the 'egungun' masquerade custom by investigating 'upo', a red carpet-like textile used for the costumes of the 'egungun' masquerade and for burials in the Niger-Benue confluence area. 'Upo' was corruptly coined from the earliest Portuguese imported red cloth ('pano'). Edo and Igala monarchs used it in the 16th century before this special prestige cloth was innovatively copied by the Okun-Yoruba on the indigenous loom and adopted by them as burial and masquerade dress materials. 'Upo''s use was diffused to the Ebira and the Etsako. This cloth was most probably produced by masquerade cult men in secret workshops from the 17th century to the early decades of the 20th century when it eclipsed by the impact of modern labour mobility, Islam, Christianity and Western education. Ref., sum. [Journal abstract, edited]