Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Flute Mask

late 19th–early 20th century
Papua New Guinea, Lower Sepik River region
Angoram or Kopar people
Wood, paint, seeds, fiber
H. 18 3/4 x W. 4 1/4 x D. 3 1/2 in. (47.6 x 10.8 x 8.9 cm)
Credit Line:
The Michael C. Rockefeller Memorial Collection, Bequest of Nelson A. Rockefeller, 1979
Accession Number:
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 354
Masks in the Sepik region of northeast New Guinea were not always created to be worn on the face. Many groups create, or created, flute masks, such as this example from the Kopar people who live along the lower reaches of the Sepik River. They served as ornaments for sacred flutes, which were important ceremonial instruments in many parts of New Guinea. Masks with long beak-like noses appear widely in Lower Sepik art and predominantly depict powerful spirits. These noses find their supreme expression in Kopar masks, in which the facial features are almost entirely condensed onto a central spike-like nose. Some examples are crowned, as here, by a small bird, possibly representing an eagle, probably a totemic species associated with one of the village clans.
[Julius Carlebach Gallery, New York, until 1956]; Nelson A. Rockefeller, New York, 1956, on loan to The Museum of Primitive Art, New York, 1956–1978

The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Art of Oceania, Africa, and the Americas from the Museum of Primitive Art. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1969, no. 144.

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, no. 55, p. 97.

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