Tatanua Mask

New Ireland

Carved wood, pigments, fabric, fibers
Late 19th century -early 20th century
Height: 17 ¼ in. (44 cm)

Ex collection Hans Sonnenberg (1928-2017), Rotterdam

Published: Voyages… From the North Pacific to the South Pacific in the wake of Captain Cook, 2019

Price: sold

Melanesia – Bismarck Archipelago
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This impressive Tatanua mask is a particularly fine example with thoughtful execution of proportions, surface, and detail, and a fierce, aggressive expression.
As stated by Michael Gunn for the Barbier Mueller Museum, "every malagan object is a complex arrangement of symbols, brought together as a coherent whole – such is the genius of the art of northern New Ireland."
As early as 1907, Richard Parkinson published a description of a ceremony that he witnessed on a visit to New Ireland. According to his account, Tatanua masks appeared at the funerals of important community leaders and were carved to symbolize manly beauty and power.
This Tatanua mask comes from the celebrated collection of Hans Sonnenberg (1928-2017), founder of the Delta Gallery in Rotterdam and passionate connoisseur of African and Oceanic arts which he started collecting privately in the 1970s.