Mask, Purari Delta
Namau people, Purari Delta, Gulf of Papua, Papua New Guinea, 19th century
Bark cloth, cane, wood, cord, pigments, various labels
Height : 41 cm
Provenance : Museum Umlauff , Hamburg (n° 2903) circa 1900.
Alain de Monbrison, Paris
John A. Friede, Rye
In the Papuan Gulf, “masking was the central focus of community rituals. When men put on masks for a performance, people in the gulf traditionally expected that something transcendental would occur. rough some sort of spirit possession the dancer took on the identity of a spirit, even becoming this spirit temporarily.” (Welsch, 2007: 11)
The present mask is constructed of painted bark cloth stretched over and wrapped around the side of a wooden stick and rattan armature, which is lashed together with cord and split cane. e shape of the mask is at and oval, with a protruding mouth. A further stylized face has been created with the application of bold abstract forms in black paint against a white background. The highly graphical aspect of the face, its perfect clarity and remarkable condition make this mask a wonderful testimony of the ancient art and culture of the Papuan Gulf, and a timeless creation of absolute modernity.