maimask dance wand

Mei Mask, 20th century

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The Mei masks of the Iatmul people of New Guinea are not face masks, but are tied to a conical structure made of plaited fibers which covers the head and shoulders of a dancer. While similar in shape, the style and decoration of the masks vary by village throughout the Sepik River region. Mei masks usually appear in male and female pairs representing the ancestral sisters and brothers of a village clan. Each clan owns a pair, and when not in use, they are kept in the clan elder's house. The masks are also used in battle to frighten enemies into submission, and to impress young boys during initiation ceremonies. Since the 1960's many traditional villagers have supplemented their incomes by producing mei masks for sale to collectors and the new market opportunities created by growing tourism.

Details
Title
Mei Mask
Role
Artist
Accession Number
85.51
Curator Approved

This record has been reviewed by our curatorial staff but may be incomplete. These records are frequently revised and enhanced. If you notice a mistake or have additional information about this object, please email collectionsdata@artsmia.org.

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maimask dance wand