Narrow Your Scope

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1. What specific time period do you plan to research?

Pre-colonization, pre Oyo Empire (Golden Age)

We would like to do the era of Ife, or the Golden Age before the rise of the Oyo empire. We are having some difficulty finding information though, due to the fact that the majority of Yoruban history comes from oral tradition.

Oyo rose to power in 14th century, however still of minor importance until 1600.

2. What artist(s) and/or work(s) do you plan to focus on specifically?

Egungun ritual.It's a masking spectacle in honor of the spirits of ancestors. It's performed at funerals and in special festivals, which are put on by "secret cults". We could also look into their thoughts on life/death which form a cyclical reality, in that it's not so much death but returning "life beyond" where everyone comes from. This is also reminiscent of the theme of transition which is common in ritual performance

Yourban art is inherent within the social customs of the culture. Not only is it a spectacle of art, but a ritualistic representation of the society as a whole.

3. What social and/or political events are happening at the time you are investigating?

At Ife -- maize not introduced until 16th century.
Paved roads (12th-14th centuries).
Ife as the cradle of Yoruba culture -- declined with the rise of the Oyo empire
Archaeological evidence of sculptures (bronze and terra cotta), possibly in reference to ancestors. Possibly used in ceremonies of the dead.
ceremonies held about a year after death. Tropical climate requires a hasty burial
Art reached it's peak in 13th-14th century (terra cotta figurines flourished even longer)
In general, there is little known about the history of Ife.
Information is heavily dependant on oral tradition

Yoruba Bata
We can see their ritual performance via their traditional Bata.
They worship God of fire, lightning and thunder, Orisha.
So Bata dancer showing their spirits of thunder and power through dance.
'Shango' is the religions cult for 15th century Yoruban.
'Shango' is historical ancestor and represent their faith.
Bata drummer and dancer's performance is a ceremony to greeting their king with masquerade.
They are performed by traveling town to town and this troupes called 'Elegun Apidan.'
Through Elegun performance, it manifests their mythology and patriarchy society.

4. Briefly describe how you reached consensus on the scope of your group project.

We started our research by looking for a very specific topic to focus on, the Egungun ritual. Then we expanded from there to similar rituals, such as the Bata Dance, the history of the Yoruba, and relevant mythology. We settled on the Egungun ritual because it reflects Yoruban beliefs on life and death, as well as represents the reverence for ancestors. It is a ritual art form integral to the daily life and belief system of the Yoruban.

5. What materials did you consult to help you make your decision (you must cite these
sources using the correct MLA citation format and begin to create a bibliography that you will eventually annotate)

Drewal, Margaret. Yoruba Ritual : Performers, Play, Agency : African Systems of Thought. Indiana University Press, 1992. Web.

Smith, Robert. Kingdoms of the Yoruba. 3rd ed. Madison: The University of Wisconsin Press, 1988. Print.

Klein, Debra. Copyright 2007.

1 Comment

Hi Group,

You've got a great start on your project, and have done a good job to explain the path that your research has taken!

I think that the Egungun ritual will be a good area for your to focus on. As you point out, it will be a challenge to discuss a form of theatre where much of the information is embodied, rather than written, but I think that you'll eventually find that there are actually lots of sources (written and otherwise) you might use. I am glad that you are already branching out to examine photos and youtube clips - these will prove extremely valuable to discussing the ritual, since they capture something that writing cannot. Your task, as good historiographers, will be to consider what is missed in written accounts of the ritual, that oral tradition maintains. For instance, what do you see in the video of the Egungun ritual that cannot be captured in writing - look closely.

You've already done a good job to begin thinking about the context of this theatre, and you should continue to try to probe deeper. You should be trying to reach a hypothesis about the meaning and/or use of this ritual in its society. Likely there is not 100% consensus on this in the scholarly community - look for differences in opinion and also subtle distinctions between how individual authors discuss these rituals. Do their accounts gel with what interviews with Yoruban people highlight, for instance? This might be a useful place to look for the scholarly debate you must discuss.

The sources you've cited - the Smith and Drewal - both look very useful. I'm not sure what the Klein is since you've not given a title. Remember to italicize all Book and Journal titles (you can do so with html on the blog platform). Also, be sure that you examine how to cite things like youtube videos if you end up using them for your presentation.

Overall, great work on this. I know that this is a very different type of theatre than you're used to seeing, but you've done a great job to begin thinking through it within its context. Continue to push to think through the deeper, more philosophical differences between this theatre's place in its society, versus theatre's place in contemporary US society.


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This page contains a single entry by heitz048 published on November 10, 2012 7:13 AM.

Some Info on Egungun was the previous entry in this blog.

A solid article about Egungun Mask w/ "Igbomina Yoruba" is the next entry in this blog.

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