One of a pair of male and female masks from the Bidayuh (Land Dayak) people of northern Borneo. These masks are carved from a lightweight and light-colored wood which has received an undercoat of light brown paint to imitate skin tone. The fronts of the masks have been overpainted in white while close-cropped hair is rendered in a strong, contrasting black. The male mask has eyebrows and a small moustache comprised of sections of cut animal hide to which tufts of hair still attach. Large round holes pierce right through the mask at the center of the eyes so that the performer can orient himself. The overall shape of the eyes, along with subtle details such as the highlighting in red of the lower lip, convey a sense of naturalism. Of course these life-like qualities would have been further enhanced when the mask was animated and danced as part of its fuller ensemble.
[John Karlburg, Kuching, Malaysia, 1990]; Fred and Rita Richman, Sarasota, FL, 1990–2013