Dance Mask Keram River East Sepik Province Papua New Guinea
This beautiful old Dance Mask is from the Keram River Area in the East Sepik Province of Papua New Guinea. This Mask was just part of an elaborate costume worn by the dancer during traditional ceremonies. The mask was attached to a larger structure that the dancer wore. I have included above one of my field photos of Masked Dancers from the Ramu River area just to show you how a complete costume looked like on the dancer.
This mask finely carved and ochre painted in the form of a Bird Man Ancestor. Each mask is unique to a family or clan as it represents a specific mythical ancestor and the mask would have its own personal name.
This mask was carved from a single piece of hardwood & the edge was decorated with a cassowary feather fringe. The long beak like nose hangs down to the middle of the mouth is pierced and contains a boars tusk ornament in the septum. he whole sculpture is brought to life with the fine ochre painting in red , white and black. People in the Sepik talk about ochre colour painting on sacred artworks as the spiritual energy being made visible.
Provenance: The Todd Barlin Collection of New Guinea Art & Oceanic & Asian Art at Oceanic Arts Australia in Sydney.