Image: Ceremonial mask from Papua New Guinea

Ceremonial mask from Papua New Guinea

This mask honoured the memory of dead leaders, both men and women. The characteristic facial ‘bars’ have different meanings – some refer to a person’s last breath or life force. The snake attacking a flying fish is symbolic of an important person. The leader of the village during the mourning period may have used this style of mask to remove taboos restricting people’s activities at this time.

Carl Bento
© Australian Museum


Australian Museum Collection E572
Northern New Ireland, Papua New Guinea
Purchased in 1887
Wood, shell, barkcloth, red ochre, Berliner wasch blau, black paint, aerial rootlets, coral, white lime

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