Okumkpa (Theatre Mask)

Nne Mgbo

By: Adenike Cosgrove Tagged:


Found in Southeastern Igboland, primarily in the town Afikpo, nne mgbo (meaning 'mother of Mgbo') masks are worn by young boys and adult men of the Mmwo (or Mma) secret society during annually Okumkpa ceremonies to celebrate the end of the dry season and are danced to satirise the lives of villagers - some celebrations can last up to four hours. Considered a female mask, nne mgbo dancers wear female clothing to act out skits about women.

Nne mgbo masks are also used during Njenji festivals, performed by young boys and adults to depict lawyers, missionaries, businessmen and Muslims.

Distinguishing Features

  • Height = 8 - 9 inches
  • Width = 4 - 5 inches
  • Oval face
  • Rounded forehead
  • Face painted white
  • Sides of mask and under chin painted black / dark brown framing the white face
  • Black, curved eyebrows
  • Oval cut-out eyes
  • Large bridged nose
  • Bridge of nose painted black
  • Black nostrils
  • Concave cheeks
  • Wide, quarter-moon 'smiling' mouth
  • NOTE: Almost exactly the same as beke masks (only difference is the mouth)

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