Hunting Devil

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A masquerade associated with a society of hunters in Freetown or the villages of the Sierra Leone peninsula. Such hunting societies are thought to have originated among the 19th century 'liberated Africans' rescued from slave ships by the Royal Navy and brought to Freetown. Typically the masker wears a costume of sacking and netting that completely conceals his body and his headdress is a shapeless concoction of netting and animal pelts topped by animal horns. Down his back hang an assortment of snail shells, wooden spoons and combs, and chicken claws. As part of the hunting play the devil wears a cartridge belt around the waist and carries a wooden gun, and enacts a hunt in which he is baited by a dancer who plays the part of an animal and whom he eventually 'shoots' to great applause from the audience.