Date Made/Found: 1875-1992
Material and Medium: rattan, natural pigment, paint
Dimensions: Overall: 330mm (13in.)
Place Object Found:
Accession Number: 1992.338
Painted basketry yam mask with stylised face in yellow, white and brown colours. It has a ridge on front, semi circle bottom and big eyes. Such masks are not for wearing but used in yam harvest ceremonies and festivals where supernatural spirits affiliated to Abelam's ancestors are believed to temporarily inhabit those large yams. These large and long yams would be cultivated only by men. Mask would be attached to the yam representing the face of an ancestor and ceremonial ornaments would be placed on the 'body'. An Abelam man's social status depends partly on his success of growing large and long yams.
This mask has some commercial paint on its surfaces, rather than the more traditional earth pigments, indicating a more recent date. However, the dark patinas on the inside suggest it could be older and was possibly re-painted later on for sale.Display Location: