In Igbo culture, the masquerade embodies the spirit and human worlds. The mystique surrounding the masquerade is one the key components of the Igbo culture that survived Western influences It is generally believed in the Igboland that the masquerade is a spirit which springs from the soil. Depending on your point of view, it may be true or only a myth. The masquerades are classified into categories based on specialization. Each masquerade possesses particular attributes (warrior-like prowess, mystical powers, youthfulness, and old age) and specializes in one or more skills (dancing skills, acrobatics, and other ritual manifestations).
Masquerading may involve one person team or a team made up of instrument players, vocalists, dancers, masquerade advisers, and the masquerade itself. Most masquerades are covered from head to toe with some piece of clothing or/and bamboo rafters. Finally, a wooden mask is worn over the face. The mask will vary depending on the type of masquerade and the place of origin within the Igboland. Some masks are designed to be beautiful, 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.
The masquerade appears during traditional celebrations (funerals) and festivals (new yam festival). The level of apprehension and the noise that await the appearance of a masquerade, will vary, depending on the type of the masquerade, and the size and make-up of the audience.