Even while planning my exciting trip, in the books about the country, I noticed that many local girls look too beautiful. Their smiling faces were covered with a white mask that reminded me personally of cosmetic clay, especially when it dries and cracks. Imagine my surprise when upon arrival in the capital of Maputo I did not notice a single beauty from my guide. More precisely, there were a lot of beauties, but none of them wore this strange mask on their face in the daylight. A slight disappointment mixed with warmed up interest was immediately expressed to the guest relation to the manager Chris at the PolanSerena hotel in the capital where I was staying. He quickly found out my further program of stay and recommended to wait for a visit to the north of the country, but for now enjoy the treasures of architecture from the times of the Portuguese colony,watch the sunsets at Dhow Café, drive with the breeze to chapas (local tuk-tuk) and eat king prawns in your free time from sunsets.
A couple of days later I was in the north of the country and saw an even more exciting shabby architecture, a slender row of twisted, salty palms, ebb in the turquoise Kirimbash archipelago, blue marlin dragged like a log on the shoulder by fishermen and … crowds of girls, all as one in my books - with a smile and grimy from a white mask. It turned out that it was here to meet a woman with a white face in the order of the most common things. It is in some way a local symbol, a means of decoration and communication, civil status and the secret of beauty. In local literature, the northern province of Nampula is generally called muthianorer (translated from Portuguese as "the country of beautiful ladies"), because it was here that the tradition of wearing a mask called mussiro was born.
Initially "mussiro" is a secret sign: a girl with a mask declares that she is a virgin and she really wants to fall in love; an older woman also wears a mask, but only after the wedding and only when her husband is out of the house, for example, on a fishing trip. It was not possible to find out what she is claiming at this moment. But I learned that the mask has amazing protective and anti-aging properties.
It is prepared from the dried Olax dissitiflora tree trunk crushed into dust. Pieces of wood are dried in the sun, ground in a mortar with stones to a powder, mixed with warm water and generously applied to the face. The mask does not dry the skin at all, it can be worn until late at night and preferably mostly in the sun. It is believed that with such contact, it shows all its positive properties: softens, smoothes, works like an SPF and rejuvenates. Find yourself in Mozambique, feel free to go to the beach in this form, only it will be better. For the spoiled public, the local brand Belmoz is already using the mussiro mask recipe in full, having launched the production of white paste in traditional tubes. They can be bought and easily brought home, while being a virgin or waiting for your husband from fishing is not at all necessary. Moreover, you can even be a man. I resisted the modern look of tubes and chose a more authentic route: in the Dhow Café, where the gourmet audience usually drinks spicy cocktails overlooking the sunset, I found modest bags of powder and even whole pieces of Olax dissitiflora barrel if anyone wants to repeat beauty ceremony thoroughly. I bought them and successfully transported them to Moscow in anticipation of contact with the sun.
Photo: Getty Images, Press Services Archive
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