Malagan mask

oceania | New Ireland

Malagan mask

New Ireland

Ges mask

Carved wood (alstonia), natural pigments, shell
19th century
Heigth: 11 ½ in. (29.5 cm)

Collected by Frigate Captain Rudolph Brosch in 1894
during the Austrian Imperial Expedition in the South Seas (1893-1895)
Thence by descent in the Brosch family

Published: Faces, visible - invisible, April 2021
Brosch Malagan Mask 29.5 cm / Galerie Flak Price on request
In Northern New Ireland, the ritual life and social organization of the clans were orchestrated by long and complex funeral ceremonies called ‘Malagan’. As stated by Dr. Jean-Philippe Beaulieu, within the framework of the Malagan institution and New Ireland ritual life, an extraordinary diversity of statues, masks and objects with very specific functions were created, sometimes for a single use lasting only a few minutes.

This rare and imposing mask was field-collected by Austrian Fregat Captain Rudolph Brosch in 1894. A year earlier, Captain Brosch had been asked to join the Austrian Imperial Expedition to the South Seas (1893-1895) under Commander Elder von Adamowicz on the three-masted S.M.S. Corvette “Fasana”.
A total of 55 objects collected in New Ireland during the Expedition later joined the collections of the Natural History Museum (Naturhistorisches Hofmuseum) in Vienna while a small selection of artworks, including this mask, had remained in the Brosch family collection by descent for over 125 years.

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