TITLE: Asmat Det
TYPE: body mask
GENERAL REGION: Oceania
COUNTRY: Indonesia
SUBREGION: Irian Jaya, Papua Province
ETHNICITY: Melanesian (Asmat)
DESCRIPTION: Det Body Mask
MAKER: Unknown
CEREMONY: Feast
FUNCTION: funeral; spirit invocation
AGE: 1960s-1970s
MAIN MATERIAL: plant fiber
OTHER MATERIALS: natural pigment; wood; animal horn; sago leaves

The Asmat people are a Melanesian ethnic group inhabiting the Papua Province of Indonesia, along the southwestern coast. They are thought to number around 70,000 individuals. The Asmat celebrate a periodic feast, a series of rituals culminating when dead ancestors, personified by performers wearing full-length body masks like this one (Det), return to visit the village.

The rites involve two types of masks. The first, a single conical mask (Bi) depicting a legendary orphan and entertains the village with comical antics.  The second type of mask, the Det, portrays the dead ancestor. Each mask of this type represents a specific individual, such as a deceased family member or illustrious ancestor.  At the climax of the ceremony, the masked performers representing the dead emerge from the forest and tour the village, where they are offered food and hospitality. They eventually arrive in front of the men’s ceremonial house, where the dead and the living join in a dance, which continues long into the night. The following morning the dead, now properly fed and entertained or frightened by threats of violence, depart for the realm of the ancestors (Safan).

Normally, this mask would have a long fringe of dried sago leaves along the sleeves and skirt, but most of this has been lost with time.

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TITLE: Lewa Mask
TYPE: face mask
GENERAL REGION: Oceania
COUNTRY: Papua New Guinea
SUBREGION: Schouten Islands
ETHNICITY: Melanesian (Austronesian)
DESCRIPTION: Lewa Mask
MAKER: Unknown maker on Vokeo Island
CEREMONY:
FUNCTION: Adult Initiation; Secret Society; Spirit Invocation
AGE: 1960s-1970s
MAIN MATERIAL: wood
OTHER MATERIALS: natural pigments

The Schouten Islands are a group of six small volcanic islands in the province of East Sepik in Papua New Guinea.  Male initiation ceremonies celebrate the passage of boys to adulthood and teach them the obligations and skills they will need to survive. This type of mask is know as a lewa and represents a male masked spirit. The carving from the ears to the nose likely represents facial decoration with bone or shell, suggesting the mask was linked to the son of a tribal elder or chief. The mask has also been decorated with a ochre and white clay. The lewa spirit enforces prohibitions against eating certain crops that enable ritual leaders to stockpile food to be used later during important ceremonies and festivals.

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TITLE: Asmat Jiwawoka Mask
TYPE: face mask
GENERAL REGION: Oceania
COUNTRY: Indonesia
SUBREGION: Irian Jaya, Papua Province
ETHNICITY: Melanesian (Asmat)
DESCRIPTION: Jiwawoka Mask
MAKER: Unknown
CEREMONY: Jiwawoka Ceremony
FUNCTION: Adult Initiation; Secret Society
AGE: 1970s
MAIN MATERIAL: plant fiber
OTHER MATERIALS: wood; natural pigments; animal bone; seeds

The Asmat people are a Melanesian ethnic group inhabiting the Papua Province of Indonesia, along the southwestern coast. They are thought to number around 70,000 individuals. Jiwawoka (sometimes written Jinokas) is an Asmat tradition in which masked dancers of a secret society initiate young men into adulthood.

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TITLE: Tapuanu Mask
TYPE: face mask
GENERAL REGION: Oceania
COUNTRY: Micronesia, Federated States of
SUBREGION: Nomoi (Mortlock) Islands
ETHNICITY: Micronesian
DESCRIPTION: Tapuanu Mask
MAKER: Unknown
CEREMONY: Soutapuana Society
FUNCTION: Agriculture; Protection; Secret Society
AGE: 1940s
MAIN MATERIAL: palm wood
OTHER MATERIALS: natural pigments (lime and coal)

The Micronesian islands are inhabited by an ethnic mix of Melanesian, Polynesian and Filipino peoples. The Nomoi Islands (formerly known as the Mortlock Islands) are a group of three large atolls in the Chuuk region of Micronesia: Satawan, Etal, and Lukunor. The Micronesian people have only a single kind of face mask, known as tapuanu, and created by the Soutapuana Society. The mask represents a protective ancestor spirit, and is danced in beachside and sacred house ceremonies to ward off typhoons that might harm the breadfruit tree, an important source of food for the inhabitants of the islands.  tapuanu mask danced by the Soutapuana Secret Society of the Nomoi Islands during ceremonies to protect the village and its breadfruit trees from natural disasters. The tapuanu can also frighten away ghosts that steal food.

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TITLE: Tapuanu Mask
TYPE: face mask
GENERAL REGION: Oceania
COUNTRY: Micronesia, Federated States of
SUBREGION: Nomoi (Mortlock) Islands
ETHNICITY: Micronesian
DESCRIPTION: Tapuanu Mask
MAKER: Unknown
CEREMONY: Soutapuana Society
FUNCTION: Agriculture; Protection; Secret Society
AGE: late 20th century
MAIN MATERIAL: breadfruit tree wood
OTHER MATERIALS: natural pigments (lime and coal)

The Micronesian islands are inhabited by an ethnic mix of Melanesian, Polynesian and Filipino peoples. The Nomoi Islands (formerly known as the Mortlock Islands) are a group of three large atolls in the Chuuk region of Micronesia: Satawan, Etal, and Lukunor. The Micronesian people have only a single kind of face mask, known as tapuanu, and created by the Soutapuana Society. The mask represents a protective ancestor spirit, and is danced in beachside and sacred house ceremonies to ward off typhoons that might harm the breadfruit tree, an important source of food for the inhabitants of the islands. The tapuanu can also frighten away ghosts that steal food.

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TITLE: Hawaiian Makini
TYPE: face mask and accessory
GENERAL REGION: Oceania
COUNTRY: Hawaiian Kingdom (presently in the United States of America)
SUBREGION: Hawaiian Islands
ETHNICITY: Polynesian (Hawaiian)
DESCRIPTION: Makini Helmet Mask and Gourd Rattle
MAKER: Unknown
CEREMONY: Makahiki
FUNCTION: Agriculture
AGE: late 20th century
MAIN MATERIAL: gourd
OTHER MATERIALS: raffia fiber; rooster feathers

Before the conquest of the Hawaiian Islands, members of the priestly caste wore helmets like this one to honor the god Lono, who conferred fertility on the land, and at the Makahiki harvest festival. It may also have been worn by the Warrior Society that protected the chief. This mask is a reproduction; the original masks would have had a crest made of sedge leaves and the strips at the bottom would have been made of tapa (cloth made from the pounded bark of trees).

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TITLE: Sumba Island Mask
TYPE: mask
GENERAL REGION: Oceania
COUNTRY: Indonesia
SUBREGION: Less Sunda Islands (Sumba Island)
ETHNICITY: Melanesian (Sumbese)
DESCRIPTION: Ancestor Mask
MAKER: Unknown
FUNCTION: War Preparation (?)
AGE: ca. 1950s
MAIN MATERIAL: wood
OTHER MATERIALS: boar bristles; animal teeth

The Sumbese people of Sumba Island are a Melanesian-Austronesian people who continue to practice the Marapu animistic religion. This mask probably represents an ancestor of the maker and probably served the purpose of war preparation. However, very little is known about masking traditions in this region.

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TITLE: Asmat Bi Mask
TYPE: face mask
GENERAL REGION: Oceania
COUNTRY: Indonesia
SUBREGION: Papua Province
ETHNICITY: Melanesian (Asmat)
DESCRIPTION: Bi (Orphan) Mask
MAKER: Unknown
CEREMONY: Feast
FUNCTION: funeral; spirit invocation
AGE: ca. 1980s
MAIN MATERIAL: wicker
OTHER MATERIALS: rattan; sago leaf fiber; natural pigments

The Asmat people are a Melanesian ethnic group inhabiting the Papua Province of Indonesia, along the southwestern coast. They are thought to number around 70,000 individuals.  The Asmat celebrate a periodic feast, a series of rituals culminating when dead ancestors, personified by performers wearing full-length body masks like this one (Det), return to visit the village.

The rites involve two types of masks. The first is this one, a single conical mask depicting a legendary orphan (Bi), appears to entertain the audience with comical antics. The second type of mask, the Det, portrays the dead ancestor. At the climax of the ceremony, the masked performers representing the dead emerge from the forest and tour the village, where they are offered food and hospitality. They eventually arrive in front of the men’s ceremonial house, where the dead and the living join in a dance, which continues long into the night. The following morning the dead, now properly fed and entertained or frightened by threats of violence, return to the realm of their ancestors (Safan).

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TITLE: Iban Shaman Mask
TYPE: mask
GENERAL REGION: Oceania
COUNTRY: Malaysia
SUBREGION: Borneo (Sarawak)
ETHNICITY: Dayak (Iban)
DESCRIPTION: Shaman Mask
MAKER: Unknown
CEREMONY: Unknown
FUNCTION: Agriculture; Purification
AGE: 1930s
MAIN MATERIAL: wood
OTHER MATERIALS: natural pigment

Not much is known about the masked ceremonies of the Iban people of Sarawak, Borneo Island. This mask dates to the 1930s, possibly earlier, and represents a demon.  It has affinities to the masks of other Dayak peoples elsewhere on Borneo. Such masks were most probably used to drive away evil spirits from the village during important ceremonies, such as funerals, and from crop fields.

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TITLE: Batak Karo Gundala
TYPE: mask
GENERAL REGION: Oceania
COUNTRY: Indonesia
SUBREGION: Sumatra
ETHNICITY: Karo Batak Toba
DESCRIPTION: Gundala Mask
MAKER: Unknown
CEREMONY:
FUNCTION: Agriculture; Entertainment
AGE: ca. 1950s
MAIN MATERIAL: wood
OTHER MATERIALS: natural pigment

The Karo people are a subgroup of the Batak Toba and inhabit the northern part of the Indonesian island of Sumatra.  They have largely resisted proselytization and adhere to traditional animistic beliefs and practices.  Gundala masks such as this one were traditionally used to pray for rain at seed sowing time, or as comical entertainment for the community leaders during major festivals.

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