One of my favorite masks… Chewa

As a long-time mask collector I’m going to occasionally blog about an ethnic group I am especially attracted to. Let’s start with the Chewa people of Malawi in East Africa.

Their Nyau masks are different and come as a surprise every time. Though often quickly made, they are always a showpiece of creative art. The four shown here represent lesser characters in a dance. They a readily available and, even though authentic, can be bought for a affordable price. The Chewa have larger masks of gods and spirits which are rarely sold.

Chewa masks are not popular with most collectors or museums. They are often omitted from collections and books. Is lack of consistency the problem?

Next time I may do a blog on the Makonde people of Mozambique. Can you think of another tribe that meets these artistic criteria? I believe this phenomenon exists in other parts of the world as well.


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