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Nelson Rockefeller's 1969 Audio Guide Introduction

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Mask (Buk, Krar, or Kara)

Date:
mid to late 19th century
Geography:
Australia, Mabuiag Island, Queensland, Torres Strait
Culture:
Torres Strait Islander
Medium:
Turtle shell, wood, cassowary feathers, fiber, resin, shell, paint
Dimensions:
H. 21 1/2 x W. 25 x D. 22 3/4 in. (54.6 x 63.5 x 57.8 cm)
Classification:
Costumes
Credit Line:
The Michael C. Rockefeller Memorial Collection, Purchase, Nelson A. Rockefeller Gift, 1967
Accession Number:
1978.412.1510
  • Description

    Intricate masks and figures made from plates of turtle-shell are unique to the peoples of the Torres Strait, which lies between Australia and New Guinea. Turtle-shell effigies were first recorded on the Torres Strait islands by the Spanish explorer Diego de Prado in 1606, a testimony to the antiquity of the tradition. Used primarily during male initiation and at funerary rituals, the masks represent mythical culture heroes and their associated totemic species. Some masks represent human forms, others depict birds, fish, or reptiles, and masks such as this one combine the features of both humans and animals.

  • Provenance

    Augustus Lane-Fox Pitt-Rivers, Farnham, Dorset, U.K.; [K. John Hewett, London, until 1967]; The Museum of Primitive Art, 1967–1978

  • See also
    What
    Where
    In the Museum
    Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History
    MetPublications
311950

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