Top 5 Popular Masquerades Across Nigerian Tribes

Masquerade are key figures in Nigeria festivities. Several Nigerian tribes believe that they stand for ancestors, while others feel they are gods. Whatever the case, they are respected because they believed to be mystical and hold related powers.

Some masquerades are revered because they never come out, only at very important events. So, the more revered a masquerade, the slimmer the chances of seeing are. Below are the five most popular masquerades from across different Nigerian tribes.

  • Ijele

This is a special and most popular masquerade in the Igbo tribe. It has its origin from the northener part of Igbo land(Anambra and Enugu States). It is referred to as the king of all masquerades as such as 45 different other masquerades perform on top of it in the olden days. Presently, the 45 masquerades are represented by the 45 figurines seen on top of Ijele. It taken about 100 men and 60 days to prepare the masquerade for appearance.

  • Ekpe

Ekpe masquerade is a visual cultural reference to the Leopard society, since its costume, makeup and props define it as such. It is popular among I the Igbos in Abia, Enugu and Ebonyi State. Most Ekpe masquerade are used to enforce law in the community and its said to be the link to their ancestors.

  • Egbabonelimwin

The Egbabonelimwin are an acrobatic dance group native to the Esan people of Edo state. They appear in groups at festivities to keep the audience in high spirit.

  • Eyo

Amongst the various forms of masquerade native in the South western states, Eyo masquerade stands out due it white distinctive apparels. It is native to Lagos State and comes out during the Eyo festival. They are usually more than one masquerades and all of them wild the traditional iconic staff known as Opambata.

  • Ekpo

The Ekpo masquerades are believed to be spirit beings brought back to the land of the living. The masquerade acts as a police man who enforces the laws of the land especially the laws of the Ekpo.

They are native to the Efik, Ibibio and Anang people of Cross River and Akwa Ibom states, though some parts of Igbo land have also adopted them. They usually consist of ugly black face masks and a straw body. Sometimes, the face is just as large as the body.

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