45 9/16 x 10 5/8 x 9 7/16 in. (115.7 x 27 x 24 cm)
Medium and Support:
Raffia, bamboo, grass, shell, ivory and feathers
Gift of Mr. and Mrs. William Cowgill and Dr. Ruth and Dr. Seymour Schwartz
Location: Not currently on view
Today, the country of Papua New Guinea is largely Christian. Masks remain a part of its culture as vestiges of earlier animist and ancestor worship religions. Although the modern versions are made to be sold to western tourists, the artists use the same centuries-old materials and techniques of the traditional forms. This mask contains an interior armature to rest on the wearer’s shoulders. Thatches of red grass on either side obscure hand holes to allow the wearer to manipulate the mask without detection. Its pristine condition exposes the mask’s function as an aesthetic object made for sale, rather than a ritual one made for use.
[Label text from It Came From the Vault exhibition, 2013]