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A Fine Old New Guinea Dance Mask Middle Sepik River East Sepik Province Papua New Guinea


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Collection No. T-3886
Size Height 67cm x 22cm
Oceanic Arts Australia buys and sells tribal New Guinea art

A Fine Old Mwai Mask Iatmul People Middle Sepik River East Sepik Province Papua New Guinea

This beautiful old Dance Mask called Mai or Mwai is from the Iatmul people of the Middle Sepik region, the masks are characterized by oblong faces with elongated noses that often merge into arch-like forms that join the nose to the chin or extend below it just like this example.

Finely decorated with Nassa and Cowrie Shells & Boars Tusks, the fine shell work is typical of this type of mask however the bulbous protrusions above the eyes that are made by attaching dwarf coconuts are the only example I have ever seen in 40 years

Mai masks are carved and danced in pairs, portraying elder and younger supernatural siblings, either brothers or sisters.

Worn by young men and boys, the masks are attached to conical basketry costumes that cover the dancer’s head and upper body. Mai mask performances begin with the construction of a fenced compound. Within it, the men build a raised platform, with a backdrop depicting the mountains where, according to oral tradition, the masks originated, and a ramp that extends over the wall to the ground outside. As the performance begins, the mai maskers burst from behind the backdrop and stride down the ramp. Reaching the ground outside, they are joined by the women, who accompany them to the dancing ground, where a lengthy performance ensues before the dancers finally retire into the men’s ceremonial house.

 Provenance:  The Todd Barlin Collection of New Guinea Oceanic Art

See my new EXHIBITIONS GALLERY  showing the Museums and Art Galleries Exhibitions that I provided artworks for over the past 40 years. There is the link to the article about my artworks published in the prestigious Louvre Magazine in 1996

I have artwork for Museums and art Galleries but also for collectors at every stage of their collecting. I want to encourage people to explore the fine art of New Guinea & West Papua and the Pacific Islands and to be able to see and touch the artworks in a relaxed and friendly manner in my Sydney Gallery. I would like to invite you to visit my gallery and see the artworks in person and also look at my website www.oceanicartsaustralia.com where there are many Galleries & Sub Galleries to explore.

My Gallery of nearly 40 years is the last physical gallery in Sydney that specializes in New Guinea and Oceanic Art.  Sydney is very close to New Guinea & the Pacific Islands where all of these amazing artworks came from, Australia’s closest neighbors.

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