Mask, Bogia, Papua New Guinea
Bogia region, Madang Province, Papua New Guinea, 19th century
Height : 52 cm
Provenance : Private collection, Australia
This mask is the best example of a tight corpus of old masks from the remote region of Bogia, located between the right bank of the lower Ramu and the mountainous chain known as Adelbert Range. Carved with genius, it has an absolutely striking expression, hilarious, joyful, and disturbing at the same time. e face is enhanced by a superb polychromy, unique to our knowledge, of white dots over Reckitt’s blue background surrounding the eyes. e importation and use of European bluing laundry pigments in Melanesia is attested from the late nineteenth century, and it remained widespread in the regions administered by the British and German colonial empires till the first decades of the twentieth century.
The art of Bogia region is rare in public collections, nevertheless, a mask of the same type yet smaller can be seen in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. (1975.305)
Price on request