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 female mask has centrally parted hair which frames the arch of her forehead (as distinct from the male whose hair is combed straight back). 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