Boundary Crossing: The Circulation of Masquerades

Whether to incarnate ancestors, enforce social codes, support royal and chiefly authority, celebrate warriors, or to entertain, masquerades were performed throughout the Lower Benue. The circumstances of war, migration, and resettlement since the nineteenth century have meant that masks were and continue to be highly mobile. They could be taken as war booty, bought and sold, adopted with or without accompanying rituals, and altered to suit aesthetic or social requirements of a new community. Reinterpreted by new owners, their meanings changed in response to different contexts and needs.

As cultural boundary crossers, masquerade traditions also retain some traces of where they have been. Their names, origin stories, accompanying musical instrumentation, idiosyncratic dance steps, or special adornments are all clues to their historical paths. The influence of Igbo, Ibibio, Boki, and other Cross River peoples can be seen especially in Idoma masquerades, particularly the whiteface mask so recognizable in southeastern Nigeria.

DETAILS ABOUT THIS VIDEO
Total Running Time: 15 minutes, 20 seconds

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