Culture

Subject:
Intangible heritage
The Ijele Masquerade. ©UNESCO 2008
The Ijele Masquerade

 
 
Language: English

In many communities in the state of Anambra in south-eastern Nigeria, celebrations, burial ceremonies and other special occasions during the dry season to evoke fertility and a bountiful harvest feature the performance of the Ijele masquerade.
The mask is about four metres tall - so large that it takes a hundred men six months of work to prepare the costume and build an outdoor house to hold it before a performance. Divided into upper and lower segments by a large python at the centre, the ijele is constructed of colourful fabric on a skeleton of bamboo sticks and decorated with figurines and depictions of every aspect of life. The towering masked figure dances at the culmination of a series of other masquerades, protected by six 'police' and carrying a mirror with the power to draw in and punish evildoers. Ijele mask carriers, chosen by ballot, seclude themselves for three months, during which they live on a special diet to acquire the strength necessary to don the mask. The masquerade plays a number of important roles in the community: spiritually, it marks both festive and solemn occasions; politically, it provides an opportunity to reaffirm loyalty to a chief or king; and culturally it provides a popular entertainment as young boys and girls sing and dance to the tunes of Akunechenyi music.


on this subject: Nomination file/Dossier de candidature


Topics and Tags
Place/region: Anambra, Nigeria, Africa
Series: 2009 Inscriptions on the Representative List
Type: Documentary
Duration:
Production and personalities:
Director: E. A.Odekanyin, D. Alahiya, A. B. Aiibola Published in:
Rights: A. B. Ajibola
 

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Original: DVD
Location: EV only
UMAS reference: AVFONDS-CLTITH-2009-0019400020
Source ref.: DOC:00706-EN, CAND:00194
Rights holder: UNESCO ; A. B. Ajibola

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