Mask

DATE:
early 20th century
MATERIAL AND TECHNIQUE:
Wood, opercula, resin, seeds, and bark
CLASSIFICATION:
Costume
DIMENSIONS:
30 × 18 7/16 × 13 7/16 in. (76.2 × 46.83 × 34.13 cm) On mount : 49 1/8 × 18 1/8 × 16 3/4 in. (124.78 × 46.04 × 42.55 cm)
DEPARTMENT:
Arts of the Pacific Islands
LOCATION:
Not On View
CREDIT LINE:
Dallas Museum of Art, The Roberta Coke Camp Fund
COPYRIGHT:
This work is in the public domain. Image courtesy Dallas Museum of Art.
OBJECT NUMBER:
1975.11

General Description

The vertical openwork panels that flank the face of this mask are characteristic of the type called wanis, which represents bush spirits. Their appearance is the first sign that a malagan ceremony is about to occur. Malagan is the name for the elaborate funerary ceremonies and feasts to honor the dead in New Ireland, and it is also the term used to describe the masks and sculptures made for the ceremonies.

A favorite theme in _malagan _sculpture is a bird with a serpent in its beak, which seems to have cosmological significance, the bird referring to the upper world or heaven and the serpent representing the earth or underworld. A fish arches above the head of the mask and pulls its long tongue upward. Each of the side panels depicts a vertically oriented fish grasping the undulating body of a serpent. The combination of fish and serpent on this mask may represent a less common mythical subject.

Adapted from

Carol Robbins, Label text, 2006.

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