Massimo Rumi

massimo rumi

Max was born in Reggio Calabria (Italy) in 1971.

After graduating in Economics he moved to London to further his career and work for a multinational company.

In 2007 he decided to take a sabbatical and travel around the world fulfilling his two great passions, travel and photography, while exploring his fascination of the world’s diverse cultures.

Today Massimo has visited 80 countries and lived in Australia for many years, before making London his home again.

I came across this amazing photographer on a train to London when I opened the Eyewitness section of The Guardian newspaper and saw his photographs of the Egungan masquerade group of Ouidah in Benin, West Africa.

Oba and Ayefodo 1

Photo : Oba and Ayefodo 1

I put the photo article in my handbag and have since contacted Max who kindly agreed to us featuring his  work on our blog.  Here are some of the most extraordinary costumes that I have every seen and do take a look at Max’ website to see more and other wonderous people and places.

Egungan MaskPhoto : Egungan Mask

Egungun masqueraders

The Spirit of Ancestors

Belief in ancestors is one of the core doctrines of African traditional religion. The Yoruba people of Benin republic believe in life after death, and the re-appearance of the ancestors in the physical corporal world happens through Egungun.

Egungun, which date back to the 14th century, is a ritual performance dedicated to ancestor worship that incorporate dance, singing, drumming, chanting, masking costumes and recitation.

Masquerades, are all men and represent the spirit of their ancestors. They are completely covered by elaborate costumes made of richly brocaded and highly symbolic tapestry-like fabrics. Brightly coloured textiles are added to these big garments from year to year and no part of the performer body is to be seen.

KparamonlePhoto : Kparamonle


Brightly coloured textiles are added to these big garments from year to year and no part of the performer body is to be seen.The costumes with their numerous layers of vividly coloured cloth, embroidery, leather, animal skin, shells and beads, and their architectural headpieces and masks, completely obliterate the human form.

kparamonle 2

All images taken from with the kind permission of the artist.


During the performance the masquerades in these beautiful costumes reach their full potential and enter a state of ecstasy where their anonymity is of the upmost importance in the Egungun. Once wearing the costume, the performer stops to be himself and become the ancestor.

Egungun are celebrated in festivals and family rituals and their society remains a highly secretive organisation with its own temples that are barred to all but members of the society.



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