Art/ Collection/ Art Object


19th century
Papua New Guinea, Lower Sepik, Ramu River region
Romkun or Breri or Igana peoples (?)
H. 23 5/8 in. (60 cm)
Credit Line:
Rogers Fund, 1978
Accession Number:
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 354
This mask was probably created by the Romkun, Breri, or Igana peoples of the Ramu and Guam Rivers, whose masking traditions are largely undocumented. The pierced eyes and small holes on its periphery, probably used to secure it to a larger basketry headdress, indicate it was likely a dance mask. Dance masks among the neighboring Kominimung people have similar imagery and possibly served similar functions. Worn by initiated men during ritual performances, Kominimung dance masks depict bwongogo, ancestral spirits responsible for the success of important activities such as gardening, hunting, fishing, and formerly, warfare. Women and children are not allowed to witness the creation of the masks. However, the entire community may watch the performance of the masked dancers.
[Wayne Heathcote, Australia, New York, and Papua New Guinea, until 1978]

Kjellgren, Eric. Oceania: Art of the Pacific Islands in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York and New Haven: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2007, 58, 100.

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