Oceania

Tolai Mask

New Britain

Gazelle Peninsula
Bismarck Archipelago

Carved wood, pigments, vegetal fiber
Mid 20th century
Height: 13 ¼ in. (34 cm)

Field-collected by Loed Van Bussel
Ex collection Jo de Buck, Brussels

Price: on request

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.