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ca. 1950
45 9/16 x 10 5/8 x 9 7/16 in. (115.7 x 27 x 24 cm)

Unknown, Mindimbit
New Guinean

Object Type: Sculpture
Medium and Support: Raffia, bamboo, grass, shell, ivory and feathers
Credit Line: Gift of Mr. and Mrs. William Cowgill and Dr. Ruth and Dr. Seymour Schwartz
Accession Number: 1992.27
Link to this object
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]

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It Came from the Vault exhibition catalogue Entry for this artwork in the It Came from the Vault exhibition catalogue. The exhibition ran from March 17-June 9, 2013

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