The Culture Of Ndigbo - part 1

Main article: Igbo culture includes the various customs, practices and traditions of the Igbo people. It comprises archaic practices as well as new concepts added into the Igbo culture either through evolution or outside influences. These customs and traditions include the Igbo people's visual art, music and dance forms, as well as their attire, cuisine and language dialects. Because of their various subgroups, the variety of their culture is heightened further.

Language and literature

Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe, perhaps the most popular and renowned novel that deals with the Igbo and their traditional life
The Igbo language was used by John Goldsmith as an example to justify deviating from the classical linear model of phonology as laid out in The Sound Pattern of English.
Igbo language is written in the Roman script as well as the Nsibidi formalized pictograms which is used by the Ekpe society and Okonko fraternity in Igboland.

Nsibidi is not widely used.  These pictograms existed among the Igbo before the 1500s, but died out after it became popular among secret societies, which then made Nsibidi a secret form of communication.
Igbo is a tonal language, like Yoruba and Chinese. There are hundreds of different dialects and Igboid languages in the Igbo language, such as the Ikwerre and Ekpeye dialects.
In 1789, The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano was published in London, England, written by Olaudah Equiano, a former Igbo born slave and first known literate African slave. The book featured 79 Igbo words.
In the first and second chapter, the book illustrates various aspects of Igbo life based on Olaudah Equiano's life in his hometown of Isseke. Although the book was one of the first books published to include Igbo material, Geschichte der Mission der Evangelischen Bruder auf den Carabischen (German: History of the Evangelistic Mission of the Brothers in the Caribbean), published in 1777, was the first book to publish any Igbo material.
In 1939, Dr. Ida C. Ward led a research expedition on Igbo dialects which could possibly be used as a basis of a standard Igbo dialect, also known as Central Igbo. This dialect included that of the Owerri and Umuahia groups, including the Ohuhu dialect. This proposed dialect was gradually accepted by missionaries, writers, publishers, and Cambridge University and as used in translating the Bible into Igbo.
Perhaps the most popular and renowned novel that deals with the Igbo and their traditional life was the 1959 book by Chinua Achebe, Things Fall Apart. The novel concerns influences of British colonialism and Christian missionaries on a traditional Igbo community during an unspecified time in the late nineteenth or early 20th century. The bulk of the novel takes place in Umuofia, one of nine villages on the lower Niger.

Performing arts
The Igbo people have a musical style into which they incorporate various percussion instruments: the udu, which is essentially designed from a clay jug; an ekwe, which is formed from a hollowed log; and the ogene, a hand bell designed from forged iron. Other instruments include opi, a wind instrument similar to the flute, igba, and ichaka.

Another popular musical form among the Igbo is Highlife. A widely popular musical genre in West Africa, Highlife is a fusion of jazz and traditional music. The modern Igbo Highlife is seen in the works of Dr Sir Warrior, Oliver De Coque and Chief Osita Osadebe, who were among the most popular Igbo Highlife musicians of the 20th century.

Masking is one of the most common art styles in Igboland and is linked strongly with Igbo traditional music. A mask can be made of wood or fabric, along with other materials including iron and vegetation.   Masks have a variety of uses, mainly in social satires, religious rituals, secret society initiations (such as the Ekpe society) and public festivals, which now include Christmas time celebrations.  Best known are the Agbogho Mmuo Igbo: Maiden spirit) masks of the Northern Igbo which represent the spirits of deceased maidens and their mothers with masks symbolizing beauty.

Other impressive masks include Northern Igbo Ijele masks. At 12 feet (3.7 m) high, Ijele masks consist of platforms 6 feet (1.8 m) in diameter, supporting figures made of colored cloth and representing everyday scenes with objects such as leopards. Ijele masks are used for honoring the dead to ensure the continuity and well-being of the community and are only seen on rare occasions such as the death of a prominent figure in the community.

There are many Igbo dance styles, but perhaps, Igbo dance is best known for its Atilogwu dance troops. These performances include acrobatic stunts such as high kicks and cartwheels, with each rhythm from the traditional instruments indicating a movement to the dancer.

Visual art and architecture

Igbo art is generally known for various types of masquerade, masks and outfits symbolizing people animals or abstract conceptions. Bronze castings found in the town of Igbo Ukwu from the ninth century, constitute the earliest sculptures discovered in Igboland. Here, the grave of a well established man of distinction and a ritual store, dating from the ninth century AD, contained both chased copper objects and elaborate castings of leaded bronze.
Some popular Igbo art styles include Uli designs. The majority of the Igbo carves and uses masks, although the function of masks varies from community to community. Igbo art is also famous for Mbari architecture.

Mbari houses of the Owerri-Igbo, which are large opened-sided square planned shelters, are examples of Igbo architecture. They house many life-sized, painted figures (sculpted in mud to appease the Alusi (deity) and Ala, the earth goddess, with other deities of thunder and water). Other sculptures are of officials, craftsmen, foreigners (mainly Europeans), animals, legendary creatures and ancestors. Mbari houses take years to build and building them is regarded as sacred, therefore new ones are constructed and old ones are left to decay.
Everyday houses were made of mud and thatched roofs with bare earth floors with carved design doors. Some houses had elaborate designs both in the interior and exterior. These designs could include Uli art designed by Igbo women.
It is near impossible to describe a general Igbo art style because the Igbo are heavily fragmented along families and lineage. This has added to the development of a great variety of art styles and cultural practices.

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