X65.4366 Mask

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New Ireland, Papua New Guinea
Late 19th-early 20th century
Wood, paint, seeds, plant fiber, snail shells
X65.4366; Gift of the Wellcome Trust.


Masks from the island of New Ireland in the southwestern Pacific Ocean are central to memorial rites called malagan, held to ease the transition of the soul into the world of the deceased. Some masks represent a specific person who has died. When these masks make their appearance at the rites, they call forth vivid memories of the deceased and publicly express the energy that the deceased person accumulated in life.

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