Macua Beauty Mask

Mussiro is a white, beauty mask   that is used especially by Macua women. The mask is made from mussiro wood. Women use it much like Western women use clay masks...because it is good for the skin. Macua women say it makes their skin soft and clear. But, unlike clay masks, mussiro is worn for hours and hours, sometimes days. Not only does the mask make the skin beautiful, the mask itself is considered beautiful. And, because Macua women are known for using it, Macua women wear it to show they are Macua.


My friend Zinha, from Monapo, showed me the process of making mussiro: First,  she rubs the stick on the rock, adding water and forming a paste.



Next, she applies the paste on her face.


When the paste dries, it becomes tighter and more solid. Zinha would leave the mussiro mask on for an entire day. Later, she would wash it off with water and her skin would be softer and clearer.


A Macua girl in Cabo Delgado.

My students Emília, Arcélia and Ilda gave a Tufo performance at a girls' conference in Inhambane Province. They were very aware that they were representing Nampula province and so they were sure to wear mussiro, so everyone would know they are Macua.


                                     Video: Tufo on Ilha 



This is a photo from Indico magazine. This is a Kimwani girl on Ibo Island, Cabo Delgado. As you can see, the design of her mussiro is more intricate than the pictures from Nampula.



A language close to Macua is also spoken in the Comoros Islands and Mayotte. The women there make a mask out of sandalwood, called msinzano.  Again, the intricate designs distinguish other groups from the Macua style. But the tradition comes from a common culture and makes the women in this area of the world stand out.









            Ilda com mussiro


For images of other ethnic groups in traditional dress:

African Ceremonies



 Nosso aluno Alvido, usando uma mascara facial de América