Mozambique Travel Guide | Traditions and Music

Makonde dancers.

Traditional ways of life are well preserved in Mozambique culture - varying from province to province.

The Makonde

One of the most well known tribes of Mozambique, known for their fearlessness and initiation rituals is the Makonde, who live mainly in the Cabo Delgado Province. They are renowned for their "mapico" masks which are used during initiation rituals, as well as their mahogany, ebony and ivory carvings which depict their rich cultural heritage.

They tattoo their bodies and sharpen their teeth purely for aesthetic purposes. The Makonde are also accomplished craftsmen, producing fine hardwood - mainly mahogany, ebony or ironwood - and ivory carvings which often depict the stories of earlier generations.

The Makua

Makonde woman with face paint.Makua women, from Nampula Province, paint their faces with "muciro", a white, root extract. They also make straw baskets, mats and other articles as well as sculptures from ebony and clay.

The agility of the Nhau dancers of Tete Province is much admired. To the sound of resounding drum beats, they dance holding huge and frightening wooden masks. For the Chope people of Inhambane Province the 'timbila' is both the name of a percussion instrument and a dance.The instrument is similar to a xylophone. During the dance, up to 23 different sized instruments are played. The Chope also use the "mbira", (left) made of strips of metal attached to a hollow box and plucked with the fingers.

Music is very important to the Niassa people who live in the sparsely populated north-western region.They use wind instruments, made from dry and hollowed calabashes, which produce a similar sound to a trumpet. Musicians in a band play instruments of different sizes.

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