Miniature mask

Murik Lakes area, Lower Sepik
Papua New Guinea

Carved wood and pigments
Very early in the 20th century
Height: 6 in. (15 cm)

Ex Michael Hamson, California
Ex collection P. Lunshof, Paris

Price: sold

Melanesia – Papua New Guinea
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This mask belongs to the classic type found in the Murik and Watam Lakes area and in the region of the mouth of the Sepik or Lower Ramu rivers.
According to Kaufmann, these masks with characteristic bird beaks nose, are male representations of powerful ancestor spirits. They are said to swallow the young initiates before regurgitating them whole, thus transformed into adults. Before the arrival of Europeans, each individual in initiation societies maintained a personal relationship with his Brag ancestor through a mask. Each mask had a distinctive effigy on its forehead - an animal carved in relief or a miniature mask. These masks were generally placed on a mobile support against a wall, inside the Men's House, or sometimes integrated into a dancer's costume during the ceremonies.

This refined mask is redolent with power and interiority.
An unidentified inventory number is written on the back of the mask.