Masquerade is form of moving art which involves wearing a mask. Some of these mask can symbolise as many personality traits including elegance, authority, dignity and mystery, They play a central role in many cultures in western and central Africa.
The masks used in such performances may be treasured as work of art in African cultures,They provide entertainment, define social roles, and communicate religious meaning. The ceremony is a cultural or religious rite, festival, procession, or dance which Involves the wearing of masks. Music, dancing, and costumes including the masks which are Key elements of masquerades.
They are viewed as ancestral spirits who periodically visit their living forebears in masquerade forms. Their visits are regarded as spiritual interventions to the world of the living and as a result are highly venerated.
In western Africa these masquerade were historically associated to religious and political institutions that reinforced social structures which determine citizenship and also the expression of these different spirits.
When Africans immigrated to other parts of the world, they carried this aspect of culture with them.
Masquerade dancers are identified by the roles they play and there are four main types.
There are those who embody deities or nature spirits and to whom sacrifice is made to assure the fertility of land and people, those who embody the ancestral spirits, those who placate the spirits through their dance, and those who perform principally as entertainers.