- Papua New Guinea, New Britain
- Kairak Baining people
- Bamboo, barkcloth, paint
- H. 54 x W. 30 x D. 14 in. (137.2 x 76.2 x 35.6 cm)
- Credit Line:
- Gift of George and Sarah Corbin, 2005
- Accession Number:
The dramatic bark cloth kavat masks created by Central Baining peoples are used exclusively in the night dance, a nocturnal performance lit by firelight. The Central Baining practice both day dance and night dance rites. The day dance, accompanied by an orchestra of women, is devoted to female fertility, agriculture, and the mourning of the dead, phenomena typically associated with the community.
The night dance, by contrast, is accompanied by a male orchestra and dedicated to spirits, animals, and commodities associated with the surrounding forest, which are represented by the kavat masks. Several dozen forms of kavat masks exist, each of which depicts a spirit linked with a specific animal, plant, product, or activity associated with the forest. The rounded form of this mask suggests that it portrays a leaf spirit.