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Adjirab people East Sepik Province, Papua New Guinea
Mask [Mask made from animal cranium with bunches of feathers for the hair] Early to mid 20th Century Place made: Porapora River, East Sepik Province, Papua New Guinea Melanesia
Materials & Technique: sculptures, masks, frontal section of pig skull, fibre, feather
Dimensions: 18.0 h x 9.0 w x 3.0 d cm
Acknowledgement: Max Ernst Collection, purchased 1985
Accession No: NGA 85.1871

More detail

One of only a small body of masks made of the frontal section of a Pig skull. Their function is unknown also it is too small to be worn as a mask and may have been attached to a larger costume, object or even held during dances. This work may have been one of a group of fifteen similar masks collected between1959-1960 from which another was owned by the artist Pierre Loeb.


Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra

This object, created from a section of pig skull, was once in the collection of Dada pioneer and Surrealist Max Ernst. It is one of only a handful known and its function is unclear. It is too small to be worn as a mask and may have been attached to a larger costume or object, or even held during performances.
It is one of a group of approximately 15 related examples collected by Pierre Langlois between 1959 and 1960 from the Adjora or Aion people.  Some examples are elaborately decorated with cane edging and overmodelled with clay and inlaid shells, but this example relies on the simplicity of form given by the skull section.


Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra 2015

From: Crispin Howarth Myth + Magic: Art of the Sepik River National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, 2015