Help us bring life to art, and art to lives. Make a donation.

Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Mask, One of a Pair

20th century
Indonesia, Sumatra
Toba Batak people
H. 11 in. (27.9 cm)
Credit Line:
Gift of Fred and Rita Richman, 2013
Accession Number:
Not on view
One of a pair of male and female masks from the Toba Batak people of Sumatra. Male and female pairs of masks were typically used in performances that accompanied funerary rites. These two nearly identical masks are carved from dark brown wood — gender is distinguished by the coiffure, which in both cases is neatly delineated on the highly polished surface by a series of carefully incised lines. This male mask has hair which is combed straight back from the forehead (as distinct from the female mask whose hair is centrally parted). The eyebrows are highlighted with a series of engraved crescent-shaped forms with single angled incisions creating further detail. The other facial features are fully modeled so that the mask is highly naturalistic and life-like. Large round holes pierce right through the mask at the center of the eyes so that the performer might orient himself. The ears project prominently from either side of the head and include a single perforation on each earlobe allowing for the insertion of ear ornaments to further animate the work when being danced.
[A European dealer, until ca. 1995]; Fred and Rita Richman, Sarasota, FL, ca. 1995–2013

Related Objects

Ritual Seat for a Noble (Osa' osa)

Date: 19th century Medium: Stone Accession: 1988.125.1 On view in:Gallery 355

Puppet Head (Si Gale-gale)

Date: late 19th–early 20th century Medium: Wood, copper alloy, lead alloy, water buffalo horn, paint Accession: 1987.453.6 On view in:Gallery 355

Finial from a Ritual Staff (Tungkot Malehat)

Date: 19th–early 20th century Medium: Copper alloy, resin Accession: 1988.143.141 On view in:Gallery 355

Container for Magical Substances (Perminangken [?])

Date: 19th–early 20th century Medium: Wood, Chinese trade ceramic Accession: 1988.124.2a, b On view in:Gallery 355

Body Mask

Date: mid-20th century Medium: Fiber, sago palm leaves, wood, paint Accession: 1978.412.1280 On view in:Gallery 354