Papua New Guinea
Carved wood and pigments
Late 19th century
Height: 19 ¼ in. (49 cm)
Field-collected in the 1940s
Ex collection Stanley Gordon Moriarty, Sydney
Ex collection Pierre Mondoloni, France
These masks were carefully kept in the Men’s House, protected from the eyes of the uninitiated (children, women). They made their appearance for ceremonies specifically organized to invoke the spirits and insure their aid.
The exceedingly rare mask presented here comes from Bogia, a region east of the mouth of the Ramu River and accessible only with difficulty.
Bogia masks are distinguished by their blend of flowing lines and jutting angles. The worn pigments and the way the mask was carved indicate great age.
In the extremely restrained corpus of known Bogia masks, we know of two similar masks, respectively in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York (inv. 1975.305) and the Bowers Museum in California (inv. 2016.1.1).