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Cult House Mask, Waskuk, Upper Sepik River Papua New Guinea


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Collection No. TB-3443
Size Height 75cm
Cult House Mask, Waskuk, Upper Sepik River Papua New Guinea
Cult House Mask, Waskuk, Upper Sepik River Papua New Guinea
Cult House Mask, Waskuk, Upper Sepik River Papua New Guinea
Cult House Mask, Waskuk, Upper Sepik River Papua New Guinea

This fine old and used Mask is from the Kwoma People at Bongus Village in the Waskuk Area of the Upper Sepik River area of the East Sepik Province of Papua New Guinea.  This old  Mask was in the Men’s Cult House in Bongus Village where I collected it in 1986.  It is what is often called a window mask because they were up high in niches inside the Cult House.  It resembles the well known sculptures called Yina   

The three major Kwoma Ceremonies are the Yina,  Minja and Nogkwi  they all focus on the harvesting of ceremonial yams; in each ceremony men display different styles of painted and decorated wooden sculptures depicting powerful clan spirits, these spirits thought responsible for the continuing fertility of yam gardens.  During the ceremonies people dance around these sculptures singing complex song cycles that celebrate incidents of note in the histories of individual clans.

Like other Sepik River peoples they are famous for their art, principally wood carvings and paintings on bark. The bulk of  their plastic art decorates ceremonial buildings. The ceilings of these structures are lined with hundreds of paintings of totemic species, and the posts and beams are lavishly carved with sculptures depicting mythological personages and spiritual beings

References:

Bowden, Ross Yena: Art and Ceremony In a Sepik Society Pitt Rivers Museum Oxford 1983
Newton, Douglas Crocodile & Cassowary Museum of Primitive Art, NY.
Wardwell, Allen Island Ancestors Oceanic Art form the Masco Collection University of Washington Press   1994
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