Ijele Mask

A large Ijele mask from Niegria, it is worn during celebrations to mark the end of the dry season

Ijele Mask, CC BY Horniman Museum and Gardens

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  • Intro
    Museum's Description
    Teacher notes
    • This is not your typical mask. It towers over people at an enormous 14foot high and 7.5 foot wide. It is constructed from bamboo and cane, which create the structure, and then covered with multi-coloured cloths.

      It was made by people from Odawa village in Achalla, Anambra state, Nigeria which is one of the few Igbo towns that has kings. So this mask is thought to be fit for a king!

      People travel very far to see the performance of Ijele Masks in Anambra state.  Glimpses of the mask are seen before revealing the whole thing to the excited crowd. The man wearing the Injele mask walks very slowly, magnifying its importance. 

      Things to think about: 
      • Can you think of masks, costumes or disguises in other cultures which draw a crowd of spectators?
      • Why do you think it was so important to make a large and impressive mask?
      • Could you have a go at designing your own?
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