Biwat people

Not on view

The masks of the Biwat people of the Yuat River, a tributary of the Lower Sepik River, appear to have portrayed two major types of supernatural beings: forest spirits, who lived in the woods surrounding the village, and water spirits, who inhabited rivers and other bodies of water. This mask likely represents a water spirit. In one Biwat village, similar masks formed the heads of human-like figures erected on the backs of gigantic reptilian effigies representing the Crocodile Mother, who symbolically swallowed and later disgorged young novices during initiation rites. The masks also were probably worn on the head during other ceremonies. The cane armature on the back of this example likely served to hold it in place.

Mask, Wood, paint, fiber, Biwat people

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