Adamma masquerade is a famous masquerade in the Igbo culture. Masquerades are assumed to embody the spirit and human worlds. The obscure or puzzling nature of the Igbo masquerade is one major mystery that survived western influences. Masquerades generally are believed to have sprung out from the soil and are classified into groups based on specialization. Masquerades possess distinctive attributes and skills which include dancing skills, warrior-like prowess, acrobatics, age, mystical powers, and other ritual activities.
Moving on, a masquerade is called “Mmanwu,” which literally means Spirit in the Igbo language, and has a history derived from traditional performance acted out by exclusive secret societies within a community.
The said societies are made up of male adults, and each member has to be initiated into the group. Their functions include entertaining the village security guards, maintaining peace and order, providing security among others.
The masquerade put on masks, which is worn so they can resemble the spirit of the dead. The mask varies, depending on the type of masquerade and the place of origin within the Igbo land. Some masks are designed to be beautiful, and others intimidating or downright sinister. Most masquerades claim to have some mystical powers and are constantly competing to see which one has the most mystical powers whenever they appear together, especially at village squares or funerals.
Origin of Adamma Masquerade
Adamma is a contemporary maiden spirit mask, with its origin from the Enugu-Igbo part of the southeastern part of Nigeria in West Africa. Nevertheless, the masquerade is performed by men only and is accompanied by music that the masked dances to. However, despite the maiden uniqueness of the Masquerade, the Adamma masquerade is masked and performed by men only, with a piece of peculiar music the masker dances to. Unlike other Igbo masquerades, the Adamma masquerade does not have any spiritual connotation or ritual manifestation attached to it.
The appearance of the Masquerade
Most masquerades are covered from head to toe with pieces of clothing or/and bamboo rafters. Finally, a wooden mask is worn over the face. The Adamma masquerade appears during festive periods, traditional celebrations and special occasions like New yam festival, funerals, coronations, carnivals among others. The Adamma Masquerade like every other masquerade may involve a one-man team or more, consisting of a vocalist, instrument players, masquerade advisers and the Adamma masquerade itself.
The Masquerade is a phenomenal dancer and the masquerade has one of the prettiest carved masked faces. Presently, during historic events, gratitude is given to God firstly for making the day possible, then masquerades like Adamma come out to amuse the people.
The “Adamma” Story Line
Furthermore, Adamma masquerade is a phenomenal dancer and has this mysterious ability to dance with so much energy over a long period of time. More so, Adamma masquerade is one of the few masquerades with the precise “storyline,” where “Adamma” is presented in a skit from where a beautiful young lady refuses to marry any of her suitors, exhibiting a show of shyness and modesty in a flirtatious way. The Skit is usually performed with the whole family, Adamma’s mom and her Dad inclusive. The “Show” also emphasizes feminine vanity, as Adamma parades around in a very proud manner.
There are few showcases in the world more glamorous and fun than watching Adamma Masquerade perform. The performance attracts spectators all over the world during festive seasons. It’s indeed a beautiful sight to behold.