Diana Newton
Egungun, 2014
Fabric appliqué
(20.5 x 9 inches)
( 52 x 23 cm)

Here is the second piece of a wall hanging I started last year with scraps of fabric acquired during my travels to West Africa. 

In Benin, the Egungun (or 'revenants' in French) are voodoo dancers believed to be the dead ancestors who have come back to life for the time of a glittering dance. Their costumes are extraordinary works of wearable art. Often featuring elaborate headdresses, they consist of richly embroidered and decorated rectangular panels that are joined to create a floor-length, tent-like structure. When the dancers sway and twirl to the unforgettable drumming of their accompanying musicians, the individual panels fly open, revealing further breathtaking layers. Painstakingly sewn onto cotton, velvet and leather, items such as sequins, cowrie shells, and beads form bold geometric designs as well as stylized animals.

Unfortunately, I didn't take any photographs of real costumes in Benin (why do I so often forget to take my camera with me?). 

But the following websites have some great images: