Rare Oceanic Mask

A choice example of Oceanic art has been added to the collection at the Toledo Museum of Art. Purchased at Christie’s, the mask is one of four known distinguished examples from Saibai Island in the Torres Straits north of Australia.  Masks in this style are called “mawa,” meaning “face,” and are believed to represent mythical heroes whose appearances signal important events and rites of passage. There are only three other examples in this style, two in the Australian Museum in Sydney and one in Barbier Mueller Museum in Geneva, Switzerland.

I posted this as a reminder of the wonderful masks you can see in museums. You can also purchase Oceanic masks from reputable dealers on the internet. Here is a nice example from Michael Hamson. Its a yam masks from the Abelam culture in close-by Papua New Guinea. 


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