Tolai Mask

New Britain

Gazelle Peninsula
Bismarck Archipelago

Carved wood, pigments and fibers
20th century
Height: 9 ½ in. (24 cm)

Ex collection Loed van Bussel, Amsterdam
Ex private collection, San Francisco

Price:  sold

Melanesia – Eastern Papua New Guinea
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As stated by the Metropolitan Museum of New York, these masks appearing to be smiling are known by variants of the name lor, which means skull in Tolai.
Tolai lor masks are worn by performers in a dance called tambaran kakao (spirit that crawls). The masks reportedly represent a spirit that comes to a local leader in dreams and reveals the details of dance paraphernalia and choreography.