The monarch of ancient Nri Kingdom, popularly referred to as Eze Nri, is the only king in Igboland forbidden from seeing masquerades.
According to Igbo customs and traditions, as long as Eze Nri lives, he shall not behold any masquerade either within his kingdom or outside his kingdom while on duty or passing. This is because we Igbos regard masquerades as spirits.
Eze Nri haven been symbolically dead and buried (before ascension to the throne) yet still apparent to ordinary eyes is generally regarded as a higher spirit and therefore cannot see smaller spirits – masquerades.
Apart from the fact that masquerades could not be displayed anywhere Eze Nri is present; no masquerade is allowed to make official passage through the palace of Eze Nri. Similarly, Eze Nri also is forbidden from seeing a corpse and other things which are part of the Igbo customary laws that guide and protect the divine throne of Nri Kingdom – the ancestral home of all Igbos.
Should the Eze Nri see a masquerade by mistake, a sacrifice must be performed to cleanse his eyes from beholding a taboo. In other words, if by mistake Eze Nri sees a masquerade maybe on official duty outside his kingdom, four eggs must be provided, these eggs are native eggs, not eggs from agricultural fowls, these eggs will be broken and Eze Nri will use the egg liquid from the eggs to wash off the taboo from his eyes. This must be done if such taboo is committed against the throne of Eze Nri.
Written by Dunu Okigbo