7 Most Dangerous Masquerades in Igbo Land
Igbo culture is heavily influenced by masquerades.
In the past, masquerades were not just used for entertainment; they served political roles too. They served as defenders of the laws of the tribe and village. Anyone who disobeyed the law ran the possibility of having a disguise visit them.
The notion that Igbo masquerades were spirits was still widely accepted at the time. Folks believed masquerades were not human and weren’t born by women – it is believed that they appeared from ant holes at midnight.
During that era, the masquerade community was considered a sacred order, and details about their background, last resting place, and even basic attire were not widely known.
Becoming admitted into the Igbo masquerade cult required weeks of rigorous initiation procedures. Because the initiation rites were mostly violent and only a few men could complete them, women were not frequently associated with the cult.
These days, people’s perceptions of the masquerade fellowship as a whole and the entrance procedure have evolved.
It’s safe to say that Westernization has lessened the significance of masquerades in rural areas, which is beneficial because these cults are easily corrupted and can be exploited for evil purposes.
7 Most Dangerous Masquerades in Igbo Land
My top 7 masquerades in Igbo land are as follows:
This is the king of all Igbo masquerades. You can anticipate the Ijele to appear last on any occasion when it displays. The whole ground would clear before the Ijele emerges. The king of all masquerades is the first to take the stage, and all other lesser masquerades must move aside. Because the Ijele must not divide their territory with anyone.
In Igbo land, the Ijele is also the biggest masquerade. On occasion, the Ijele might get so big that people would stand on it while it was performing.
In Igbo land, the tallest masquerade is the Izaga masquerade. Presenting the Izaga masquerade is no easy task. There are many technical details involved. For this reason, it is unlikely that you will see the Izaga masquerade at a small-town event. The audience is captivated the entire time it is on display. The Izaga will topple over with even the smallest flaw. Furthermore, no one should ever hear that an Izaga fell.
3. Mmanwu Ugo
Mmanwu Ugo is a sophisticated masquerade. In Igbo land, it is among the priciest masquerades to display. Like other animal-spirit masquerades (Atu, Mmanwu Odum, Agu Iyi, etc.), the Ugo masquerade captures the essence of the African eagle and its behaviours.
In Igbo land, eagles are revered birds of great regard. The Ugo masquerade is probably only on exhibit during significant events like ofalas. From its delicate and elegant dance moves to the time it falls to the ground to lay an egg, it is truly amazing to witness!
4. Oji Onu Masquerade
Oji Onu is a joyful masquerade that is primarily performed for amusement. It is renowned for its dramatic dances and lovely masquerade chanting (mbem). Oji Onu is a masquerading orator. You wouldn’t grow tired of listening to its humorous mbem chants for the entire day.
Most experienced masquerade males who are proficient in masquerade dancing and chanting carry the Oji Onu. In contrast to the other terrifying masquerades, Oji Onu is open for anybody to see and give gifts to.
5. Ajikwu Masquerade
Never seen during the day, Ajikwu is a masquerade for the night. The reason Ajikwu is respected is that it is not insignificant. Being visited at night by this masquerade is a terrible omen. An extremely political mascot called the Ajikwu is employed to punish offenders.
An expensive casting or a goat, for example, must be lost by any home the Ajikwu masquerade visits at night in order to collect fines (ida nha). However, unscrupulous masquerading chiefs can easily corrupt and utilize the Ajikwu to harass innocent people.
These three masquerades are representative of the same genre in most climates. The Agaba is a terrifying masquerade with a machete that is recognizable by its enormous, protruding front teeth and hideous appearance. Agaba is not a children’s disguise. It is stated that a woman must never view this masquerade in broad daylight, or else she might miscarry.
Adamma was never a scary masquerade for the Igbo people. Its sense of wonder was derived from beauty. In Igbo land, Adamma is still revered as the most beautiful masquerade.
Adamma actually means “Maiden of Beauty” just from the name. Given that guys are wearing the disguise, this is rather ironic. Maybe knowing that Adamma is a mature man below all the dramatic scenes and intricate, effeminate mannerisms increases her power to astonish.