• Oceania

    New Guinea wood carving

    Q:  I recently acquired a PNG yam ceremony carving from the Netherlander and remembered that you had a yam god mask posted on your website. Maybe you are not interested in carvings but I figure I will share them with you and as always, I’m very interested in hearing your opinions. Photos are stock, carvings are currently in transit.  David, 1376 A:  Your carving is certainly from Papua New Guinea and a very handsome piece of folk art. I’ve never seen a yam mask this long and narrow. How tall is it? What is that little knob for on the bottom? Perhaps you can find someone who specializes in PNG or oceanic…

  • Oceania

    Dayak shaman’s mask from Borneo

    Unlike the red, white and black Hudok masks with their long beaks and wings, the shamans’ come in different colors and designs. They can also be rather plain with little or no color.The Iban people are one branch of the Dayak tribe of Borneo. Another large group is the Bidayu culture which occupy the region of Sarawak. Actually, the second photo is a hunters mask. You can see more Borneo masks, including the famous Hudok, in our “Oceanic” category.

  • Oceania

    The only Micronesian mask

    Masks are very rare in Micronesia. Traditionally they are only found on the Satawan Atoll in the Mortlock group of islands. (Melanesia and Indonesia have thousands of different masks.) This typical example is made of breadfruit wood painted white using lime and black using soot. This wood mask has narrow eye-slits and a plaited coconut fiber cord for securing it to the wearer’s head. It is over 100 years old. Such masks represented an ancestor. They were used as ornaments in the ceremonial house and sometimes in boat houses. The ceremonial house was the location of performances by members of a secret society, in which the god of wind was…

  • Oceania

    Masks from Fiji

    Janet King on Pinterist has only this to say about the older mask: the Fijian people are the least talented mask-makers in the world. I doubt that, but this is the only example I’ve ever seen. We need to know more about size, material, history, usage, etc. Let’s hope someone makes a comment. The newer (and purely decorative) Fiji mask, with its turtle representing happiness, measures about 8 inches. This mask was hand carved and hand painted for the tourist trade. These fakes come in many colors or plain wood, and have that Tiki look we see in so many souvenirs from the Pacific Ocean area. The Fiji Islands are…

  • Oceania

    Carnaval mask, Bacolod, Philippines

    Bacolod is known for its Masskara Festival which is a parade and party like that of Brazil. People wear masks and party out on the street, drinking, eating and having a great time. The mask motif of the festival has changed from masks influenced by native Spanish-speaking Filipinos to those influenced by the Carnival of Venice and the Rio Carnival. Earlier masks were hand-painted and adorned with feathers, flowers and native beads, while contemporary masks feature plastic beads and sequins. There is a big festival in the Spanish colonial tradition in Marinduque that is religious in nature. You can see a much different Morione mask in the Oceania Categories.

  • Oceania

    Woven yam mask from PNG

    I recently posted a wooden yam mask in bright yellow. Here is a much different, woven-basket yam mask from the Abelam people, Maprik district, Sepik region, Papua New Guinea. It looks large– about 18 inches. Basket yam masks are also an essential part of the elaborate yam harvest ceremonies and festivals for the Abelam people. Rituals associated with yams form the basis of the spiritual life for them. Both the woven and the wood examples are important for collectors to have.

  • Oceania

    Yellow yam mask from PNG

    Here we have a yam mask from the Abelam people of Maprik, East Sepik Province, Papua New Guinea. It is mid 20th century, but the wood carving and colorful natural pigments are still in good condition. It is 11.5 inches high. Yams are the most important crop in PNG. This design is a carved replica of a bird of paradise and it is very common for the yam ceremonies. There are woven yam masks that are much different. I found this yellow beauty at the Morgan Oakes Gallery.  

  • Oceania

    Moluccans scrimshawed bone mask

    Our bone mask from the Moluccas Islands is beautiful with its subtle carving and unusual shape. The Moluccans, located North of Timor and East of Sulawesi, became part of Indonesia in 1950. Wish I could tell you more about this unique mask. Though “Ask the Mask Man” is mostly about telling new owners what they have, I frequently add photos that I find interesting. Then I categories each mask and add it to one of 15 groups which you can easily access. I hope “Categories” has become a useful research tool for some of you collectors.    

  • Oceania

    Batak mask from Sumatra

    Batak is a collective term used to identify a number of closely related Austronesian ethnic groups predominantly found in North Sumatra, Indonesia who speak Batak languages. The term is used to include the Karo, Pakpak, Simalungun, Toba, Angkola, and Mandailing which are related groups with distinct languages and customs. Well carved masks like this will show up in other parts of Indonesia as well.

  • Oceania

    Sumatran helmet mask

    Here is a very fine example of a Batak ceremonial dance mask from the Sumatra region of Indonesia. It is carefully carved and has a nice patina. Batak is a collective term used to identify a number of closely related Austronesian ethnic groups predominantly found in North Sumatra, Indonesia who speak Batak languages. The term is used to include the Karo, Pakpak, Simalungun, Toba, Angkola, and Mandailing which are related groups with distinct languages and customs.