African textiles, £10.99
Height: 90.000 cm
Width: 27.000 cm
Depth: 16.000 cm
AOA 1993 Af9.15
Simoni mask of Queen Elizabeth's official companion
Chewa people, Malawi
This mask depicts a royal escort who accompanied Queen Elizabeth on an official visit to Malawi in 1979. He was described as 'tall, heavy, a big man with a moustache and quite handsome'. His image was recreated two weeks later by a mask-maker who had watched the Queen's arrival at the airport. The mask is made of wood painted pale pink. It has striking eyebrows and a moustache of synthetic fur. It would have been worn with a full length costume made of composite materials.
Simoni masks represent the youngest son of the chief and are often associated with foreigners, especially from the colonial period. They have either red or flesh-coloured painted faces and their dances suggest power and authority. Simoni is seen as intelligent and successful, but also shrewd and dangerous.