Tuesday, December 22, 2009

One more from Arrow of God


Ejukpe mask (closest to camera) and other Igbo masks.

Think of a man who, unlike lesser men, always goes to battle without a shield because he knows that bullets and matchet strokes will glance off his medicine-boiled skin; think of him discovering in the thick of battle that the power has suddenly, without warning, deserted him. What next time can there be? Will he say to the guns and the arrows and the matchets: Hold! I want to return quickly to my medicine-hut and stir the pot and find out what has gone wrong; perhaps someone in my household - a child, maybe - has unwittingly violated my medicine's taboo? No.

At any other time Ezeulu would have been more than equal to his grief. He would have been equal to any grief not compounded with humiliation. Why, he asked himself again and again, why had Ulu chosen to deal thus with him, to strike him down and cover him with mud? What was his offense? Had he not divined the god's will and obeyed it? When was it ever heard that a child was scalded by the piece of yam its own mother put in its palm? What man would send his son with a potsherd to bring fire from a neighbor's hut and then unleash rain on him? Who ever sent his son up the palm to gather nuts and then took an axe and felled the tree? But today such a thing had happened before the eyes of all. What could it point to but the collapse and ruin of all things? ...

Perhaps it was the constant, futile throbbing of these thoughts that finally left a crack in Ezeulu's mind. Or perhaps his inplacable assailant having stood over him for a little while stepped on him as on an insect and crushed him in the dust. But this final act of malevolence proved merciful. It allowed Ezeulu, in his last days, to live in the haughty splednour of a demented high priest and spared him knowledge of the final outcome. (285-287)


Igbo mask

G.I. Jones Photographic Archive of Southeastern Nigerian Art and Culture

1 comment:

Kyle said...

That was an impressive link JP. I love the collection. Masks, headdresses, costumes, statues, idols, art, it's all there. Even more priceless are the shots of plays, dances, and the group shots.