Oceania

Brag Mask

Lower Sepik
Papua New Guinea

Murik Area

Carved wood and pigments
19th century
Height: 14 ¼ in. (36 cm)

Collected by Captain Friedrich-Wilhelms Hafen Haug before 1909
Ex collection Linden Museum Stuttgart, inv. 61170
Ex collection Nathalie Chaboche & Guy Porré, Paris

Published: Art de Papouasie Nouvelle-Guinée, p. 99, Voyageurs et Curieux, 2010
Published: Voyages… From the North Pacific to the South Pacific in the wake of Captain Cook, 2019

Price: on request

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As indicated by Christian Kaufmann (“Shadows of New Guinea“, Barbier-Mueller, 2006, pp. 411-412), these masks are the masculine representation of powerful spirit-ancestors, who swallowed young initiates before regurgitating them as adults.
Each individual in societies practicing initiation rites maintained a personal relationship with his ancestor by the intermediary of a mask called a brag. According to Philippe Peltier, these masks were also consulted prior to war expeditions (“Sepik“, musée du quai Branly, 2015, p. 228).
Captain Haug, who field-collected this mask, was the commander of a steamship, the “Siar“ belonging to the Deutsche Neuguinea-Kompagnie. Haug was the first to have traveled up the Sepik for over 300 km, in 1908, collecting many important masks and sculptures during the trip. Subsequently, these joined the collections of the Linden Museum in Stuttgart.