Death and the King’s Horseman

Egungun Term Analysis

Ceremonial costumes that Yoruba men wear during a specific annual ceremony to honor the dead. The costume allows the wearer to channel the ancestors. Only men can wear them.

Egungun Quotes in Death and the King’s Horseman

The Death and the King’s Horseman quotes below are all either spoken by Egungun or refer to Egungun. For each quote, you can also see the other terms and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Life and Death Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Norton edition of Death and the King’s Horseman published in 1975.
Act 2 Quotes

Pilkings: Nonsense, he's a Moslem. Come on, Amusa, you don't believe in all this nonsense do you? I thought you were a good Moslem.

Amusa: Mista Pirinkin, I beg you sir, what you think you do with that dress? It belong to dead cult, not for human being.

Pilkings: Oh Amusa, what a let down you are. I swear by you at the club you know—thank God for Amusa, he doesn't believe in any mumbo-jumbo. And now look at you!

Related Characters: Simon Pilkings (speaker), Sergeant Amusa (speaker), Jane Pilkings
Page Number: 24
Explanation and Analysis:
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Act 4 Quotes

Olunde (mildly): And that is the good cause for which you desecrate an ancestral mask?

Jane: Oh, so you are shocked after all. How disappointing.

Olunde: No I am not shocked Mrs. Pilkings. You forget that I have now spent four years among your people. I discovered that you have no respect for what you do not understand.

Related Characters: Olunde (speaker), Jane Pilkings (speaker)
Page Number: 50
Explanation and Analysis:
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Act 5 Quotes

No child, it is what you brought to be, you who play with strangers' lives, who even usurp the vestments of our dead, yet believe that the stain of death will not cling to you. The gods demanded only the old expired plantain but you cut down the sap-laden shoot to feed your pride. There is your board, filled to overflowing. Feast on it.

Related Characters: Iyaloja (speaker), Elesin, Simon Pilkings, Olunde
Related Symbols: Chains
Page Number: 62
Explanation and Analysis:
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Egungun Term Timeline in Death and the King’s Horseman

The timeline below shows where the term Egungun appears in Death and the King’s Horseman. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Act 2
Colonialism Theme Icon
...Pilkings's home, Pilkings and his wife, Jane, are tangoing through their living room, dressed in egungun costumes. As they dance, a native policeman, Amusa, comes to the door and peeks in... (full context)
Duty and Collective Responsibility Theme Icon
Colonialism Theme Icon
Jane tries to reason with Amusa and points out that he helped arrest the egungun cult leaders in town. She asks why he's only worried about this now. Amusa explains... (full context)
Duty and Collective Responsibility Theme Icon
Colonialism Theme Icon
...scared earlier. With a laugh, Jane imitates Amusa's refusal to speak to Pilkings in the egungun costume. Pilkings decides to send the houseboy, Joseph, to the police station with instructions. Jane... (full context)
Life and Death Theme Icon
Colonialism Theme Icon
...calls him in. Pilkings confirms that Joseph is a Christian and isn't bothered by the egungun costumes, and then asks what's going on in town. Joseph says that Elesin is going... (full context)
Act 4
Colonialism Theme Icon
...prince, and finally, Pilkings and Jane approach the prince. The prince is fascinated by their egungun costumes, and Pilkings demonstrates how the natives dance when they wear the costumes. After a... (full context)
Women and Power Theme Icon
Duty and Collective Responsibility Theme Icon
Colonialism Theme Icon
...earlier: he can't talk about death to the death cult (Pilkings is still wearing the egungun costume). Pilkings dismisses Amusa from duty for the evening and gets ready to leave himself.... (full context)
Women and Power Theme Icon
Colonialism Theme Icon
...see of her, Jane also looks well. She asks Olunde if he's shocked by the egungun. Olunde says he isn't, though he thinks it must be hot inside the costume. Jane... (full context)