TITLE: Tapuanu Mask
TYPE: face mask
COUNTRY: Micronesia, Federated States of
SUBREGION: Nomoi (Mortlock) Islands
ETHNICITY: Micronesian
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.