Gule Wamkulu was a secret cult, involving a ritual dance practiced among the Chewa in Malawi, Zambia, and Mozambique. It was performed by members of the Nyau brotherhood, a secret society of initiated men.Within the Chewa’s traditional matrilineal society, where married men played a rather marginal role, the Nyau offered a means to establish a counterweight and solidarity among men of various villages.
Thank you for the great pictures Joschka Woeste!
Gule Wamkulu is performed in the season following the July harvest, but it can also be seen at weddings, funerals, and the installation or the death of a chief. On these occasions, the Nyau dancers wear costumes and masks made of wood and straw, representing a great variety of characters, such as wild animals, spirits of the dead, slave traders as well as more recent figures such as the honda or the helicopter.It's a tradition deeply rooted in the Nyau culture.
Gule Wamkulu is an extraordinarily rich tradition, which UNESCO recognised as constituting part of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity in 2005. Want to know more about the Gule Wamkulu? See the link in our bio and make sure to watch some videos of the amazing performances.
The great book 'When Animals Sing and Spirits Dance', written by Claude Boucher, is an amazing book that portraits a lot of the Gule Wamkulu charaters and explains all about their culutre, dances and deeply rooted tradtion. Seeing Gule Wamkulu perform in Malawi is a fantastic experience.
The dances and characters take you right into the world of the Chewa's and makes you feel connected to the culture and the villages.
Since it's not that easy to just hop on a plane and go to Malawi we recommend to check out some great videos where you see the Gule Wamkulu perform.Watch videos
Characters appeared in the
Gule Wamkulu tradition
countries where the
Gule Wamkulu'sare represent
The year the Gule Wamkulu
became Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity