MaskTolai people, New Britain, Papua New Guinea,mid to late 19th centuryWood, paintGift of Evelyn A. J. Hall, 1981 (1981.331.3)Ex coll.: Linden-Museum, Stuttgart, Germany; collected by Paul Sandel in the 1880sNew BritainThe peoples of the island of New Britain northeast of NewGuinea are remarkable for the scale and variety of theirritual arts, which include diverse forms of masks and otherceremonial paraphernalia. Many of the island’s largest andmost spectacular art forms are made from ephemeralmaterials such as plant pith or bark cloth (a paper-liketextile made from the inner bark of certain trees). For bothday and night dances, the Baining of northern New Britaincreate imposing bark cloth masks, examples of which areon view here and in the adjoining case. The Sulka peopleand neighboring groups produce enormous, vividly coloredheaddresses and dance paraphernalia also made primarilyfrom perishable materials, although some include durablewood elements. The Tolai people produce a variety of maskforms in wood and fiber as well as dance wands and otherritual paraphernalia. Contemporary New Britain peoples arepredominantly Christian, but many of these ritual art formscontinue to be created and used alongside, or as part of,Christian religious observances.