Skip to contentSkip to navigation
Become a Member
Explore today's schedule
Visit MMFA for free by becoming a Member
Learn more
Back
Currently shown

Tatanua Mask

Location

PAPUA NEW GUINEA, NORTHERN NEW IRELAND

Title

Tatanua Mask

Date

Before 1972

Materials

Wood, pigments, vegetable fibre, turban shell opercula

Dimensions

43.2 x 17 x 43.2 cm

Credits

Gift of Justin and Elisabeth Lang, inv. 1972.Pc.1

Collection

Archeology and World Cultures

Tatanua masks are generally worn at the conclusion of the malagan cycle of funeral rites, a cultural tradition shared by a number of linguistic groups in the north of New Ireland. The large crest alludes to the hairstyle worn by men in mourning. During a performance, dancers move in lines in front of spectators to the music of a male chorus and the beat of a slit drum. This type of mask was previously construed as embodying the spirit of the departed, but recent interviews indicate that, at least now, it instead represents standards of male beauty. In the last few decades, tatanua masks have also begun to be worn during new, non-funerary, dances.

A touch of culture to your inbox
Subscribe to the Museum newsletter

Bourgie Hall Newsletter sign up

This website uses cookies in order to optimize your browsing experience and for promotional purposes. To learn more, please see our policy on the protection of personal Iinformation