Ceremonial mask (biola)

Tetun peoples
19th century
more object details

General Description

The eyeholes of most masks from Timor are hollow. Here, the use of two shells of different colors creates a disturbing contrast, heightening the intensity of the primal stare. Animal skin and hair often frame Timor masks, and the tiny nails protruding from the perimeter of this piece may once have secured a beard or similar attachment. Once associated with head hunting, this mask was probably stored in the loft of a traditional house as a powerful family heirloom.

Excerpt from

Roslyn A. Walker, Label text, 2013.