Malagan
sculpture

oceania | New Ireland

Malagan
sculpture

New Ireland

Side element for a Vanis mask

Carved wood (alstonia), pigments and shell
Late 19th century
Height: 24 ¼ in (61.5 cm)

Provenance :
Ex Herz-Jesu Mission Museum, Münster-Hiltrup
Ex collection Kevin Conru, Brussels
Ex collection Abraham Rosman & Paula Rubel, New York
acquired from the above on February 5, 2009

Side element for a Malagan mask ex Hiltrup / Galerie Flak Price on request
This sculpture was originally one of the side elements ("ear") of a mask used for Malagan ceremonies. These masks in carved and painted wood often with large ears are known by the name of Matua or Vanis. They are considered to be Malagans and their creation must adhere to the same strict corpus of rules as the statues. Their role is important, since their arrival marks the beginning of the end of the last stage of the funeral ceremony. They lead the wearers of Ges masks at sunrise to clean the village, collect shell money and chase away wandering spirits of the dead. In the village, they dance to the lamentations and weeping of the whole community. They then remove the taboos placed on the community and open access to the funeral enclosure where the last phases of the ceremony take place. The masks are then arranged for display next to the Men’s House. Unlike Malagan statues, masks can be used several times.

Documentation

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