X65.4344 Eharo Mask

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Eharo mask
Elema peoples, Papuan Gulf, Papua New Guinea
Early 20th century
Barkcloth, plant fiber, wood, human hair, paint, feathers
X65.4344; Gift of the Wellcome Trust.


Eharo masks were used for entertainment and at the same time inspired awe through the reenactment of legends. Made of painted barkcloth stretched over a cane frame, the masks were intended to be humorous. They appeared when the great doors of Elema ceremonial houses were dedicated and were brought to the festivities by visiting guests. The making of these doors was just a small part of the great Elema ritual cycle known as hevehe.

Gallery text, Intersections: World Arts, Local Lives, 2006