Large Brag Mask

Lower Sepik
Papua New Guinea

Murik Area

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

Price: sold

Melanesia – Papua New Guinea
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During large initiation ceremonies, brag masks were placed on movable supports sculpted in woven rattan; these were carried about and made to “dance.“
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.