- Museum number
Mask (nyolonyo) for Nyau masquerade made of red, white and blue interwoven plastic raffia. Decorated with cream synthetic fur fabric at front (into which are cut two tiny eyeholes) and at back. Fluorescent orange and yellow bands form diagonal cross on either side of mask with central blue synthetic fur disc. Mask edged with band of bronze lurex from which is attached fringe of white plastic raffia. Two bundles of salmon and white-coloured wool knotted into raffia. Mask surmounted by metal rods secured with rubber bands and decorated with ostrich feathers of assorted colours. Forms pair with no.40 in collection.
- Production date
Height: 85 centimetres
Width: 33 centimetres
Depth: 8.50 centimetres
- Curator's comments
For depictions of Nyau masks in Malawi rock art see:
Nyolonyo (soft, front and back) is the youngest son of Kasinja and Kachipapa and is a mask of cloth, a sack turned upside down over the head. The seam of the sack runs front to back, with one tall feather at the front and one tall feather at the back. The appearance is the same from the front and the back, which, it is said, indicates a person with no proper face. He has the same blank face in front as in back, and is attributed with having the same traits of stupidity, lameness and foolishness and his brother Chimtabwa (de Aguilar, 196:94)
Nyolonyo carries an axe or sometimes two axes in the dance, so it becomes a blank face which is also very dangerous. His movements are said to be suggestive of an ostrich, although ostriches are not found in Malawi. This depiction by Nyau member could well come from Malawian migrant workers in South Africa, however. The feathers do resemble ostrich feathers and are described as being ostrich feathers. This depiction might also indicate a perception of ostriches as stupid birds (de Aguilar, 196:94)
See Collection File Af,1993.09. Collection made by the vendor during periods of fieldwork in Malawi (1985-6,1988,1990 & 1992). Nyau is a men's semi-secret masked association whose major function is to perform masquerades at funerary ceremonies. Made, owned and danced by Kenani Chitago and collected in 1992 on behalf of vendor by Mr Kalekeni.
Pair with Af1993,09.40
- Not on display
- Acquisition date
- Africa, Oceania and the Americas
- Registration number