Adam: I’m really very interested in a category of mask that isn’t hugely desirable to the collecting market. I like 20th century pieces that are brightly painted, but have been tribally used, particularly the Nyau masks of the Chewa, Guere masks and Igbo/Yoruba masquerade pieces.
Me: Once I bought a collection of Chewa masks, but they are long gone. Four from that collection are on page 31 of my book, Masks of the World. This image of Elvis Presley is a Nyau mask from the Brooklyn Museum collection. Isn’t it fantastic!?
The characters in Nyau Society performances often involves reverse role playing and the masks are sometimes humorous in nature. Because the society is secret, it was once banned by the British when Malawi was part of its colonial empire.