Material other than the one listed

TITLE: Abelam Bapamimi Mask
TYPE: other mask
GENERAL REGION: Oceania
COUNTRY: Papua New Guinea
SUBREGION: East Sepik River
ETHNICITY: Melanesian (Abelam)
DESCRIPTION: Bapamimi (Yam) Mask
CATALOG #: OCPG001
MAKER: Unknown
CEREMONY: Wapisaki
FUNCTION: Agriculture
AGE: 1960s
MAIN MATERIAL: woven plant fiber
OTHER MATERIALS: natural pigments

The Abelam people of the Sepik River area of Papua New Guinea use several types of masks, many of them intricately woven of plant fiber. The yam mask (bapamimi) is not worn by the tribe members, but instead is used to decorate giant yams after harvest during the yam festival (wapisaki). Abelam people assemble at a designated village and lines up the yams, which can reach up to three meters long and weigh over 50 kilograms. They decorate them with masks such as this one, flowers, and other regalia. Everyone then discusses the planting, harvesting, the shape and size, and other details of each yam, much in the same way that gardening aficionados in the Canada, Europe, and the United States compare their own vegetables and flowers at prize shows. The largest and best yams confer status on the grower.

This mask was acquired by a generous gift from an anonymous donor.

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TITLE: Baining Anguangi Mask
TYPE: helmet mask
GENERAL REGION: Oceania
COUNTRY: Papua New Guinea
SUBREGION: East New Britain Islands
ETHNICITY: Melanesian (Baining)
DESCRIPTION: Uramot Anguangi Mask
CATALOG ID: OCPG005
MAKER: Unknown
CEREMONY: Night (Atut) Fire Dance
FUNCTION: Adult Initiation; Agriculture; Celebration; Funeral; Spirit Invocation
AGE: 1970s
MAIN MATERIAL: tapa cloth
OTHER MATERIALS: bamboo; vines; pigment from chewed roots and coconut husk ash

The Baining people live in eastern New Britain Island area known as the Gazelle Peninsula, in a mountainous tropical forest.  They are a Melanesian people closely akin to other groups in Papua New Guinea.  They traditionally live in small villages with dispersed political authority.  The Baining use their masks to unify the otherwise dispersed villagers, usually in celebrations of major events such as yam harvest, births, deaths, or adult initiation for both boys and girls.  Some dances are for the day time, mostly those centered around female tasks such as sowing, harvesting, and births.  Atut dances, also called fire dances because they’re performed around a bonfire, are held at night and center around male activities such as hunting.

The masks are mostly made of mulberry or breadfruit tree bark mashed and pounded into a cloth (“tapa cloth”) over bamboo frames.   This specific mask, the anguangi or atutki, is used in night dances by the Uramot group of Baining people. Unlike other Baining masks, the anguangi is usually retained in the house and not discarded after the ceremony.

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TITLE: Donald Duck Mask
TYPE: hood mask
GENERAL REGION: North America
COUNTRY: United States of America
ETHNICITY: Mixed
DESCRIPTION: Rubber Disney-Licensed Donald Duck Mask
CATALOG ID: NAUS024
MAKER: unknown
CEREMONY: Halloween
AGE: early 1950s
MAIN MATERIAL: rubber
OTHER MATERIALS: paint

This mask represents Donald Duck, a popular character from the Walt Disney Company cartoons of the mid-twentieth century. Its appearance and materials place it in the 1950s, but the circumstances of its creation and licensing by the Disney Company are unknown.  It was probably used as part of a Halloween costume.

Click above to watch a documentary about Halloween in the United States.

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TITLE: Boules Janissary Mask
TYPE: face mask
GENERAL REGION: Europe
COUNTRY: Greece
SUBREGION: Naoussa, Imathia, Macedonia
ETHNICITY: Hellenic
DESCRIPTION: Yianitsaros (Janissary) Mask
CATALOG ID: EUGR002
MAKER: Alexandros Karydas (Naoussa, 1985- )
CEREMONY: Carnival
AGE: 2009
MAIN MATERIAL: beeswax
OTHER MATERIALS: oil-based paint; cotton cloth; horse hair; metal foil; cotton stitching; metal and plastic ornament

The origin of the Boules (Brides) Festival in the town of Naoussa, in Macedonia, Greece, is obscured by history.  It probably has its origins in ancient Dionysian celebrations of fertility during the spring (Anthestiria). The modern festival is held during Carnival, but its origin was the Turkish occupation of Naoussa.  The Ottoman Empire controlled much of Greece from 1537 until 1829.  According to legend, in 1705, the Turks renounced the principle of peaceful coexistence and Turkish soldiers came to the village of Naoussa to recruit forcibly children for their Christian military unit. Those families that resisted were slaughtered.  The following year, around Carnival time, the villagers of Naoussa put on masks and costumes, and paraded in tribute to the dead. To deceive the Turks, the ritual was framed as a wedding, but in reality the bride was a masked man, and the wedding feast was really a means to surreptitiously collect money and food for rebels living in the mountains.

Today, the tradition is still rigorously followed, with masked brides and “janissaries” (Greek soldiers fighting for the Turks) performing specific dances. Only unmarried young males are allowed to masquerade, and all wear the same costume.  In the case of the bride, she wears a black, embroidered skirt, and dark long-sleeved blouse, and a wedding veil. They parade through the town to the music of traditional bands, until they reach the City Hall, and the leader of the boulouki asks permission from the Mayor to begin the ceremony. They then go to the main square, where the dancing begins. After the dances, the boules go from house to house collecting donations.

This specific mask was danced by Gregory Tararas (Naoussa, 1985- ) for four years, from 2009-2012.

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TITLE: Boules Bride Mask
TYPE: face mask
GENERAL REGION: Europe
COUNTRY: Greece
SUBREGION: Naoussa, Imathia, Macedonia
ETHNICITY: Hellenic
DESCRIPTION: Bride (Nifi) Mask
CATALOG ID: EUGR001
MAKER: Alexandros Karydas (Naoussa, 1985- )
CEREMONY: Carnival
AGE: 2020
MAIN MATERIAL: beeswax
OTHER MATERIALS: oil-based paint; cotton cloth; polyester cloth and ribbons; synthetic flowers; cotton stitching

The origin of the Boules Festival in the town of Naoussa, in Macedonia, Greece, is obscured by history.  It probably has its origins in ancient Dionysian celebrations of fertility during the spring (Anthestiria). The modern festival is held during Carnival, but its origin was the Turkish occupation of Naoussa.  The Ottoman Empire controlled much of Greece from 1537 until 1829.  According to legend, in 1705, the Turks renounced the principle of peaceful coexistence and Turkish soldiers came to the village of Naoussa to recruit forcibly children for their Christian military unit. Those families that resisted were slaughtered, and resisters hid in the mountains to stage attacks on the Turkish forces. The following year, around Carnival time, the villagers of Naoussa put on masks and costumes, and paraded in tribute to the dead. To deceive the Turks, the ritual was framed as a wedding, but in reality the bride was a masked man, and the wedding feast was really a means to surreptitiously collect money and food for rebels living in the mountains.

Today, the tradition is still rigorously followed, with masked nifi (bride) and boules (council of men), today called yenitsari (“janissaries,” or Christian soldiers fighting for the Turks) performing specific dances. Only unmarried young males are allowed to masquerade as part of the group (boulouki), and all yenitsari wear identical costumes. The bride is also played by a young man. In the case of the bride, she wears an embroidered skirt, and colorful long-sleeved blouse, and a wedding veil. They parade through the town to the traditional music (called Zalistos) of a band playing drum and clarinet (zournas), until they reach the City Hall, and the leader of the boulouki asks permission from the Mayor to begin the ceremony. They then go to the main square, where the dancing begins. After the dances, the boules go to the Alonia region to ceremonially remove their masks.

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TITLE: Emberá Monkey Mask (Child’s)
TYPE: face mask
GENERAL REGION: Latin America
COUNTRY: Panama
SUBREGION: Darien
ETHNICITY: Emberá
DESCRIPTION: Capuchin Monkey Mask for Child
CATALOG ID: LAPA011
MAKER: Unknown
CEREMONY: Healing; Purification
AGE: 2018
MAIN MATERIAL: dyed palm fibers
OTHER MATERIALS: N/A

The Emberá people belong to the Chocó ethnic group along with the Wounaan people inhabit parts of southern Panama and northern Colombia.  They weave remarkable animal spirit masks from the dyed fibers of the black chunga plant (black palm, Astrocaryum standleyanum). Shamans (jaibaná) use these masks in healing and village purification rituals, during which they will be hung from the house posts or worn.

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TITLE: Emberá Toucan Mask
TYPE: face mask
GENERAL REGION: Latin America
COUNTRY: Panama
SUBREGION: Darien
ETHNICITY: Emberá
DESCRIPTION: Tucán (Toucan) Mask
CATALOG ID: LAPA012
MAKER: Unknown
CEREMONY: Healing; Purification
AGE: 2017
MAIN MATERIAL: dyed palm fibers
OTHER MATERIALS: N/A

The Emberá people belong to the Chocó ethnic group along with the Wounaan people inhabit parts of southern Panama and northern Colombia.  They weave remarkable animal spirit masks from the dyed fibers of the black chunga plant (black palm, Astrocaryum standleyanum). Shamans (jaibaná) use these masks in healing and village purification rituals, during which they will be hung from the house posts or worn.

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TITLE: Guaimíe Cucuá Devil Mask (Child’s)
TYPE: face mask with pañoleta; costume; whip
GENERAL REGION: Latin America
COUNTRY: Panama
SUBREGION: Coclé
ETHNICITY: Guaimíe (Ngobe-Buglé)
DESCRIPTION: Cucuá Devil Mask and Costume for Child
CATALOG ID: LAPA008
MAKER: María José Rodríguez (San Miguel Centro, 1955- ); Gabriel Morán (San Miguel Centro, 1966- ); Julio Ovalle (San Miguel Centro, 1990- )
CEREMONY: Danza de los Diablos (Dance of the Devils)
FUNCTION: Celebration; Entertainment
AGE: 2018
MAIN MATERIAL (mask): tapa cloth from white Cucuá tree bark
OTHER MATERIALS (mask): tapa cloth from red Cucuá tree bark; Vejuco Verde stick frame; Pita palm string; wild boar jaw; white-tailed deer antlers; vegetable dyes
MAIN MATERIAL (costume): tapa cloth from white Cucuá tree bark
OTHER MATERIALS (costume): Pita palm string; vegetable dyes; cacique seed buttons, leather sandals; cacique wood stick with leather strap; mounted on a balsa wood figure with vegetable dyes and hardware

The Guaimíe (today called Ngobe-Buglé) people inhabit the north-central region of Panama.  Although they have largely become mixed in race and ethnicity, those living in the Coclé region have recently revived their traditional dance, today known as the Danza de los Diablos (Dance of the Devils). The dance actually is a form of worship of traditional animist gods; the reference to “devils” was bestowed by Catholic missionaries, who equated all indigenous religions in Latin America as “devil worship.”

The dance is held every March and is performed in large groups of both adults and children, to the music of violin, drum, rattle, and guitar. Dancers wear full suits made of cloth made from pounded bark of the Cucuá tree, decorated with symbols and a triangular motif that represents the scales of the snake-god formerly worshiped by the indigenous people.  They carry a whip made of a sturdy cacique wood pole and leather straps, and as they dance they shout out invocations of the nature spirit they represent.  The masks and costumes are made entirely from natural materials found locally.  Even the paints are made from vegetable dyes, with guaymi leaves providing the red tint, turmeric the yellow, mucuna vine seeds (“deer-eye beans”) the black, and chile pepper leaves the green.  Buttons are made from seeds from the cacique tree.

This mask and full costume were made for a child dancer. A Guaimíe wood carver created the life-sized model for the Museum’s display.


Click above to watch a short documentary film about the Cucuá devils of Panama.

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TITLE: Guaimíe Cucuá Devil Mask
TYPE: face mask with pañoleta
GENERAL REGION: Latin America
COUNTRY: Panama
SUBREGION: Coclé
ETHNICITY: Guaimíe (Ngobe-Buglé)
DESCRIPTION: Cucuá Devil Mask
CATALOG ID: LAPA009
MAKER: María José Rodríguez (San Miguel Centro, 1955- )
CEREMONY: Danza de los Diablos (Dance of the Devils)
FUNCTION: Celebration; Entertainment
AGE: 2006
MAIN MATERIAL: tapa cloth from white Cucuá tree bark
OTHER MATERIALS: tapa cloth from red Cucuá tree bark; Vejuco Verde stick frame; Pita palm string; wild boar jaw; white-tailed deer antlers; vegetable dyes

The Guaimíe (today called Ngobe-Buglé) people inhabit the north-central region of Panama.  Although they have largely become mixed in race and ethnicity, those living in the Coclé region have recently revived their traditional dance, today known as the Danza de los Diablos (Dance of the Devils). The dance actually is a form of worship of traditional animist gods; the reference to “devils” was bestowed by Catholic missionaries, who equated all indigenous religions in Latin America as “devil worship.”

The dance is held every March and is performed in large groups of both adults and children, to the music of violin, drum, rattle, and guitar. Dancers wear full suits made of cloth made from pounded bark of the Cucuá tree, decorated with symbols and a triangular motif that represents the scales of the snake-god formerly worshiped by the indigenous people.  They carry a whip made of a sturdy cacique wood pole and leather straps, and as they dance they shout out invocations of the nature spirit they represent.  The masks and costumes are made entirely from natural materials found locally.  Even the paints are made from vegetable dyes, with guaymi leaves providing the red tint, turmeric the yellow, mucuna vine seeds (“deer-eye beans”) the black, and chile pepper leaves the green.  Buttons are made from seeds from the cacique tree.

This mask was danced by Gabriel Morán, son of the mask maker, from 2006 until 2018.  The pañoleta (decorated scarf hanging from the back) was replaced in 2013 due to the previous one wearing out.


Click above to watch a short documentary film about the Cucuá devils of Panama.

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TITLE: Iroquois Corn Husk Mask
TYPE: face mask
GENERAL REGION: North American
COUNTRY: Canada
SUBREGION: Québec
ETHNICITY: Iroquois
DESCRIPTION: Corn Husk (Bushy Head) mask
CATALOG ID: NACA009
MAKER: Unknown
CEREMONY: Agriculture; Healing; Secret Society; Spirit Invocation
AGE: ca. 1970s
MAIN MATERIAL: braided corn husks
OTHER MATERIALS: N/A

The Iroquois League (Haudenosaunee) historically inhabited the northeastern regions of the United States and eastern Canada, before being displaced by Dutch and British settlers.  They maintain tribal lands in Ontario and Quebec today, reserved by treaty.

Most Iroquois nations had three medicine societies, one of which was the Society of Husk Faces.  Among the important rituals of the Society are celebration of the Midwinter Festival using the “Bushy Heads” or corn husk masks. They represent earthbound spirits from the other side of the world, where the seasons are reversed (which, in fact, they are south of the Equator). The beings taught the Iroquois the skills of hunting and agriculture. They perform predominantly two dances, known as the Fish Dance and the Women’s Dance. Unlike the False Face dancers, Husk Face dancers are mute. Like the False Face dancers, they can cure the ill by blowing hot ash or sprinkling water on their patients.

The Bushy Heads can be male or female, young or old.  Either men or women may dance in the Husk Face Society, and sometimes they choose masks of the opposite gender to the amusement of the audience.

For more on Iroquois masking traditions, see William N. Fenton, The False Faces of the Iroquois (University of Oklahoma Press, 1987).

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