Large Brag Mask
Papua New Guinea
First part of the 20th century
Carved wood and pigments
Height: 31½ in. (80 cm)
Ex collection Stefan Grusenmeyer, Belgium, circa 1990
Ex collection Jerry Liebowitz, New Jersey, USA
Ex collection Pierre Mondoloni, France
Published: Sepik : Crochets, Figures & Masques, 2018
These superstructures were very much bigger than the masks themselves. The latter almost disappeared behind the feathers and ornaments which moved in time with the dancing.
After the ritual dances, the masks again took up their places in the ceremonial house, leaning against the walls of the edifice.
According to Barry Craig (“Myth+Magic Art of the Sepik River“, National Gallery of Australia, 2015 p. 55), the long curving nose indicates that the mask represents a bush spirit, a water spirit, or some other mythological spirit rather than an ancestor.
The mask presented here is distinguished by its monumental size (80 cm) and the richness of its polychromatic decoration. Remarkable force emanates from this expressive face.