Tolai Mask

Bismarck Archipelago
New Britain

Ancient Lor mask

Carved wood and pigments
Early 20th century
Height: 10¼ in. (26 cm)

Ex collection Loed & Mia Van Bussel, Amsterdam
Ex collection Anthony J.P. Meyer, Paris
Ex collection Jean-Paul Morin, Paris
Ex collection Pierre Bergé, Paris

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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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.