X65.4375 Miniature mask

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Miniature mask
Sepik River, Papua New Guinea
19th-early 20th century
Wood, pigment, shell, plant fiber, seeds
X65.4375, Gift of the Wellcome Trust


In the Sepik River region of New Guinea, people sometimes attach miniature masks to the ubiquitous string bags in which they carry their personal effects. These masks are intended as reminders of the spirit world, and they are placed on the bags in order to secure the protective power of the spirits. The use of human features to depict the supernatural is common in the arts of New Guinea, as elsewhere, where ancestors merge with the spirit world.

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