Funeral Mask - ROM2004_947_6


Funeral Mask

Maker: Malagan
Medium:Carved and painted wood
Geography: Melanesia, Bismarck Archipelago, Papua New Guinea
Date: c. 1900
19.05 x 38.1 cm
Object number: 914.12.1
On view
Gallery Location:Shreyas and Mina Ajmera Gallery of Africa, the Americas and Asia-Pacific
DescriptionMalagan refers to both the mourning ceremonies as well as the masks made by the people of New Ireland to honour the dead and to assist them on their transition to the spirit world. After the dead are buried, a mourning period of one to five years is observed, during which certain foods may not be eaten. At the end of the mourning period, clans or families of the deceased commission master carvers to make malagan carvings, which include figures, masks, posts and boards. The malagan carvings are placed in especially constructed enclosures in the village. The masks are then revealed to the people and featured in the malagan ceremonies. The helmet mask (tatanua) may be worn on the head during the ceremonies by the strongest man. The mask may represent a specific deceased person or spirit of the dead. During the malagan ceremonies, the spirit of the dead ancestor is said to come into the mask and empower the dancers. Malagan ceremonies remove the taboos and restrictions associated with the mourning period and mark the completion of funerary rites. Additional Reading: 1. Halligan, Peter. 1990. The Revelation of the Malagans: The Ritual Art of New Ireland. Florida Gardens, Queensland: Tribal Arts Gallery. 2. Küchler, Susanne. 2002. Malanggan: art, memory and sacrifice. Oxford: Berg.
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