Things Fall Apart: Egwugwu Mask

Category: Things Fall Apart
Last Updated: 21 Mar 2023
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The Egwugwu were a significant part of not only Umuofia, but the Ibo culture as a whole. They represented the spiritual ancestors of Umuofia. They were similar to the “justice system” of today. The Egwugwu were seen as wise and ultimately the most respectable members of the clan.

They would review a case of the people and agree on a ruling they felt was “just”. For example, Achebe writes about the Egwugwu judging the case of Uzowulu and his constantly abused wife from page 88 to 94. Even though there were some people who did not agree with the decisions of the Egwugwu, they never dared to speak out against them.

Achebe tells the reader the origin of the Egwugwu when writing “…the spirits of the ancestors…emerged from the earth. The Egwugwu house…faced the forest, away from the crowd, who saw only its back with the many-colored patterns and drawings done by specially chosen women” on page 88. This explains the reader the secrecy and importance of the Egwugwu. They were so sacred that the house they came from couldn’t even face the rest of Umuofia.

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For my project, I created a mask similar to the one Achebe describes on page 90. This spirit is portrayed to “[have a] springy walk. He looked terrible with the smoked raffia body, a huge wooden face painted white except for the round hollow eyes and the charred teeth that were as big as man’s fingers.” ( Achebe 90).

I have added clay shaped as teeth to my mask to represent the “charred teeth” (Achebe 90). Additionally, I was unable to find horns as Achebe also tells us the spirit has, so I have added feathers instead. This mask would be used anytime the Egwugwu is out in public. The spirits are unable to remove theses masks because doing so would be “murder” (Achebe 186). Also, I have added scorings to the mask to show the detailed markings carved into actual tribal masks.

Related Questions

on Things Fall Apart: Egwugwu Mask

Why do the Egwugwu wear masks?
The Egwugwu wear masks to represent the spirits of their ancestors and to show respect for their culture and traditions. The masks also serve to protect the identity of the Egwugwu and to create an atmosphere of mystery and awe.
What do the Egwugwu represent things fall apart?
The Egwugwu in Things Fall Apart represent the ancestral spirits of the Igbo people. They are seen as powerful and mysterious figures who are responsible for maintaining order and justice in the community. They are also seen as a symbol of the traditional values and beliefs of the Igbo people.
What do the Egwugwu symbolize?
The Egwugwu are a group of masked spirits in the Igbo culture of Nigeria. They symbolize the ancestors and are believed to be the guardians of the community, protecting it from harm and ensuring justice is served. They are also seen as a representation of the power of the community and its traditions.
What are the masks in things fall apart?
The masks in Things Fall Apart are physical masks worn by the Igbo people of Nigeria during ceremonies and rituals. These masks are used to represent gods, spirits, and ancestors, and are believed to bring good luck and protection to the wearer. They are also used to represent characters in traditional stories and plays.

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Things Fall Apart: Egwugwu Mask. (2016, Jul 22). Retrieved from

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