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A Superb Malekula Island Ceremonial Mask Vanuatu


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Collection No. TB-1324
Size Height 42cm
A Superb Malekula Island Ceremonial Mask Vanuatu
A Superb Malekula Island Ceremonial Mask Vanuatu
A Superb Malekula Island Ceremonial Mask Vanuatu
A Superb Malekula Island Ceremonial Mask Vanuatu
A Superb Malekula Island Ceremonial Mask Vanuatu
A Superb Malekula Island Ceremonial Mask Vanuatu
A Superb Malekula Island Ceremonial Mask Vanuatu

This beautiful used ceremonial Mask was field collected in South West Malekula Island in 1986. Malekula is one of the islands that make up the country of Vanuatu formerly known pre-independence as The New Hebrides.

The man in the photo, Kaiar was the artist who made this amazing artwork.

The Mask is made from a bamboo frame and covered in a vegetable fibre paste that goes hard after mixing. The hanging part at the back is made of spider webs.  This can be worn as a mask as seen in the field photo or in a ceremonial display

In SW Malekula Island these masks and faces are known as “Temes Nevimbur” they are used during important ceremonies by members of a secret society, also called “Nevimbur”.  They are seen from behind the fence which is a sacred area.  Many of these ceremonies celebrate the attainment of higher status within the secret societies known as “grade taking ” or taking of a higher title.  Merit rather than birth determines the grade or rank of an individual within these societies. A man with strong determination can be elevated over a lifetime to the status of a living deity. Pigs are crucial to obtaining the higher status for the highest levels of the secret society, dozens of full circle tusked pigs are needed to be sacrificially killed on a single occasion to take the next level or grade within the society.

Malekula Island Artworks are one of my personal favourites’ out of all Oceanic Art and I was extremely lucky to have seen them in use in the village setting. The people I stayed with there were extremely warm and kind & generous.

On a custom-made stand for easy display.

Provenance: The Todd Barlin Private Collection of Oceanic Art.