- Museum number
Composite openwork face mask (kan’gwin’gwi) for Nyau masquerade made of plastic raffia sacking and cloth strips bound with sisal, partly stained black. Mouth area covered with kapok ?, eye area bound with kapok ?. Teeth of cardboard inserted on inside of bound pad. Protruding 'horn' with metal wire core covered in cloth and kapok ?. Rectangular piece of skin with attached hair fastened to top pad. Directly behind 'horn' are sewn cotton cloth strips, bottom cloths have back-to-front "S" letter applied in kapok and secured with cotton thread. Bundle of pink plastic raffia at one side of mask. Synthetic ties in combination of red, white and blue used to secure mask to head.
- Production date
Height: 46 centimetres
Width: 33.70 centimetres
Depth: 17 centimetres
- Curator's comments
For depictions of Nyau masks in Malawi rock art see:
Kan’gwin’gwi (to have shooting pains along the limbs) are masked messengers that deliver the news to villages of the death of the namkungwi, the senior woman of the village community (de Aguilar, 1996:154).
The messengers are covered in layers of green banana tree leaves. And their faces are covered in cloth and hide, made by the individual dancer. Kan’gwin’gwi runs from village to village, dancing at each place for few coins, and tells in his falsetto high-pitched voice that there is a funeral the next day. Several dancers are set in different directions to inform their neighbours. Through the performance of dance and song, the news is conveyed (de Aguilar, 1996:155).
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. Mask made by Mr Sayinani in 1990, collected in 1992.
- Not on display
- Acquisition date
- Africa, Oceania and the Americas
- Registration number