Okumkpa (Theatre Mask)


By: Adenike Cosgrove Tagged:


Found in Southeastern Igboland, primarily in the town Afikpo, mba masks are among the most common masks of that region. Used by older Igbo boys of the Mmwo (or Mma) secret society, mba masks are danced annually during Okumkpa ceremonies to celebrate the end of the dry season.

Associated with the akparakpa group and dressed to depict young, unmarried women, the masquerade dances are used to mimic the behaviour of girls and to satirise the lives of villagers.

Distinguishing Features

  • Decorated board protruding from top of head
    • Painted lines and triangles
    • Board painted in details of black, white, yellow, orange and/or red
  • Almond shaped slit eyes
  • Open, protruding mouth
  • Woven raffia attached to edge of mask
    • Holes around edge of face where raffia is attached

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