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Currently shown

Brag Mask

Location

PAPUA NEW GUINEA, LOWER RAMU

Culture

Murik

Title

Brag Mask

Date

Before 1957

Materials

Wood, pigment, vegetable fibre

Dimensions

46.8 x 18.7 x 12 cm

Credits

Purchase, gift of James Morgan, inv. 1957.Pc.1

Collection

Archeology and World Cultures

This mask is the embodiment of a mythical being or spirit whose name we do not know. While creating the mask, the carver recites incantations to ensure its power. The eyes and mouth are cut out last, since they are what give life to the mask. The circulation of this type of mask among villages complicates identifying where it was made, but the short, hooked nose and denticulated beard are characteristic of the mouth of the Ramu River area. Brag masks were kept hidden from the view of the uninitiated until they were brought out for public performances by dancers dressed in elaborate basketry costumes topped by feathers. Those performances marked important events, such as the inauguration of a new ceremonial house, initiations, or funeral celebrations.

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