This oval mask was made in Papua New Guinea
in the 1960s. The mask is from the lower Sepik River area. Many groups
of people live in this area, and we do not know exactly where this mask is from. It is made from boar tusks,
feathers, plant fibre, shell and clay on a gourd
base, and stands 67cm tall.
The mask was used by men in their ceremonial houses to protect their sacred flutes from the eyes and hands of children,
women and uninitiated men. The mask may represent
the spirit of an ancestor, whose voice is the sound of the flute.
In the Sepik River area as a whole, flutes were played during many rituals, both sacred and everyday. In some parts of
the Sepik, the flutes were not played but were very elaborately decorated and kept as prestigious objects. In others, men
were highly respected for their musical talents. Some flutes were played in pairs and represented mythical brothers.
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