Teaching Ideas

Encouraging Dialogue

For Students K-12

  • This wanis mask is made out of natural materials like wood and bark. Why might these materials be important to the use or purpose of this object?

  • In what ways does this mask resemble a person? How is this face different from a real person?

  • There are many components to the funerals of the people of New Ireland, including costume, dance, and song. Many objects such as this mask are used for a variety of reasons and have a variety of significances. What are the various components and objects of funeral ceremonies in our culture. Why, for instance, do we commonly associate flowers with funerals? Why do people dress in their best clothes during a funeral?

  • How can masks and costumes change the attitudes of their wearers? How can masks and costumes change how others perceive the wearer? Why might this be important during an important ceremony or religious ritual?

Making Connections

For Students K-12

  • Compare this wanis mask with the Tatanua mask (1975.8). What similar materials were used to make each mask? What role does each play in the funeral ceremonies of the peoples of New Ireland?

  • In order to better understand the setting of a malagan ritual, research what takes place at one of these ceremonies and write a series of sensory details imagining you are at the ceremony. For instance, what do you hear? What do you see? How might you describe the atmosphere?

  • This wanis mask is made from natural materials which give it a sense of wildness and give life to the untamed "bush spirit" it represents. Choose a subject from nature and consider it carefully. Your subject could represent a quality or phenomenon of the natural world. Suggestions include a tornado, a quiet pond, or a wind storm. Make a work of art that represents this quality or phenomenon using only natural materials. What materials best serve your subject matter?