Incredible masquerade costumes from Sierra Leone, Haiti, Nigeria and Benin
Photographs by Phyllis Galembo
Disguised as animals, spirits, ancestors, or just as ordinary human beings, African masquerade performers delight and amaze audiences of all ages. Masqueraders enact well-known legends and stories that sometimes recount a group’s history and at the same time express its social values, using music, dance, and drama to comment on life and entertain people. Sometimes these performances are part of serious religious ceremonies: masqueraders can represent spirits who may possess the dancers, giving them special knowledge which they express in their performance.
Links with Carnival
When people were taken from Africa to the America’s and Caribbean they took their spirituality & traditions with them. This can be seen with African American Hoodo, Cuban & caribean Santeria, Palo, Brazilian Candomble, Obeah & Haitain Voodo.
Masquerade culture may have a big impact on Carnival celebrations.
infact In Carnival terms, playing mas is shorthand for the word “masquerade”. It means to dress up in costume or, like Fox Carnival Band, to carry standards and parade as part of a mas band.
Playing mas comes from Trinidad, where it originated during slavery. For the six weeks of the European Carnival, slaves were permitted to dress up and play musical instruments - and they developed clever ways to satirize both their condition and its perpetrators.
Click here for some history on Carnival.