X65.7781 Miniature mask

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Object Name: Miniature mask

Artist: Unknown

Place of Origin: Sepik River, Papua New Guinea

Date: 19th-early 20th century

Dimensions: H: 13.50 cm, W: 6.50 cm, D: 4.00 cm

Materials Used: Wood, seeds

Credit Line and Accession Number: Fowler Museum at UCLA. Gift of the Wellcome Trust. X65.7781


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