You might be planning a trip to Mozambique soon, but you probably have no idea what’s in store for you (literally and figuratively) when it comes to shopping. You’ll find that its capital, Maputo is loaded with outdoor and indoor markets, small shops, and giant malls, giving you plenty of stuff to browse through. You’ll also find plenty of other great areas around the country to nab souvenirs, often at roadside stalls. But what exactly should you buy that’s uniquely Mozambican that will wow your friends and family back at home? From jewelry, to curio goods, to cooking ingredients, here are some of the top souvenirs to buy in Mozambique on your next visit.
Whether you’re looking for a nice addition to your wardrobe or looking to purchase a gift for a friend, Mozambique has plenty of clothing you’ll find in shops sporting unique Mozambican patterns. Much of the clothing is brightly colored with aggressive patterns of spirals, zigzags, leaves and more. Go for a dress (that can be customized for you), or any other other article of clothing that’ll make great conversation starters back at home. “This shirt? Oh I got it from my recent trip to Maputo.”
When browsing through shops, keep your eyes out for Makonde masks that are used in ceremonies. The masks are used to represent ancestral spirits and emotions can be visibly conveyed. Some older masks include real hair for eyebrows and lashes. In some occasions, you may find animal masks that represent ancestors as well. Specific masks have different meanings such as pregnancy, fertility, coming of age, masculinity, femininity and more. So acquire one of these masks for a museum piece for your home.
If not masks, look for wooden figurines made by the Makonde people. The figurines are usually used as a protector of the household and bring good luck. You’ll notice many figurines depict women with protruding bellies to signify pregnancies. Some carvings are believed to bring such good luck that hunters will often carry them (attached to their hips) while they go on their expeditions. Perhaps you can purchase a piece and see if it’ll bring you the same luck as it has brought for its people.
Batiks works as a tapestry or a scarf with its own brightly-colored art on the fabric. You’ll find batiks of different sizes from large rectangles (big enough to use as a tablecloth) to smaller square, napkin-sized batiks. The fabric are drawn in using hot wax and then dyed to create its impressive art. Some batiks are made with mud and starch instead of wax. They are incredibly cheap so you’ll be able to buy a bunch of them for multiple family and friends (or one for everyone at the office?).
Paintings are popular in markets since Mozambicans are proud of their signature bright color canvases. Purchase one of the art pieces that isn’t shy on colors to place above the bed or fireplace as a constant reminder of your trip to Mozambique. Some pieces are quite political to represent local’s culture tiff with the government or history. Many local artists are incredibly talented and spend their days in markets creating the paintings to sell. When walking around the city, or any other smaller towns, it’s common to spot murals and artistic details in buildings since the country is extremely supportive of its artist communities.
Salt and spices
When browsing through outdoor markets, you’ll find barrels with salt and spices piled high into a peaked dome. Salt is one of the biggest food production staples for Mozambique and buying a bag full of thick chunks of salt will give you a nice ingredient to add to your kitchen (or as a gift for the cook in your family). Spices are also popular such as peri peri, paprika, crushed chilies, tarragon and more.
If you’re looking to treat yourself or your significant other, why not purchase jewelry that’s encased with Mozambique’s most famous gemstone, the garnet. The stone is crimson red that’s found in the mines of the country and makes quite the stunning piece of jewelry. Garnet gemstones became really popular during the Roman Empire and Anglo-Saxon era where wealthy people would cover themselves with lavish jewelry containing the red stones.
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