Masquerade balls were extended into costumed public festivities in Italy during the 16th century Renaissance (Italian, maschera). They were generally elaborate dances held for members of the upper classes, and were particularly popular in Venice. They have been associated with the tradition of the Venetian Carnival.
The word "masquerade" has its roots in the French word "mascarade" and the Italian word "maschera," but masquerades likely originated on the West African coast. ... Masquerade first became popular in Venice, Italy and the practice of masquerade balls quickly spread throughout Europe and England in the 18th century.
Why Do You Wear a Mask? Masquerade balls were often turned into a game of "guess the guests" because the guests were supposed to conceal their identity with their masks. This would create a game that basically required guests to try to guess another guest's identity.
. African masquerade
Many African societies have a rich tradition of masquerades, which are plays, ceremonies, or dances by masked performers. Masquerades provide entertainment, define social roles, and communicate religious meaning. The masks used in such performances may be treasured as works of art.
. Yoruba masquerade
Egungun, (egúngún with proper Yorùbá language tone marks) in the broadest sense of the word, refers to all types of Yoruba masquerades or masked, costumed figures. More specifically, "Egungun" refers to the Yoruba masquerades connected with ancestor reverence, or to the ancestors themselves as a collective force.
. Igbo masquerade
Mmanwu is a traditional masquerade of the Igbo people of Southeastern Nigeria. They are performed only by males in exclusive secret societies and involve the use of elaborate, colorful costumes that are meant to invoke ancestral spirits.
Ijele Masquerade, known as the biggest Masquerade in Sub-Saharan Africa, is a tradition of the Igbo people of Nigeria and was listed in the UNESCO Archives as an intangible cultural element in need of urgent safeguarding.
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