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Lower Ramu River Miniature Mask

Lower Ramu River Miniature Mask

Regular price €425,00
Regular price Sale price €425,00
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Madang Province, early to mid. 20th century, Sepik-Ramu estuary, Papua New Guinea.

Exceptional, small-sized and aged miniature mask finely carved in brown wood with nose and eye orbital area outlined with a shallow raised ridge, featuring characteristic elongated forehead, powerful brow overhanging the diamond-shaped upward-slanting eyes with perforated round holes, and the long curved bird beak nose with pierced septum. The lower portion of the ovoid face with serrated beard line and tiny cresent mouth. Small knob on top of head and the chin.

The Ramu River flows into the sea close to the Sepik River mouth. In the Sepik and Ramu River area people’s ceremonial and spiritual life revolves around masks. Dance masks, typically representing powerful ancestor spirits (bwongogo), responsible for the success of important activities such as gardening, hunting, fishing, and formerly, warfare. Masks were used in a diversity of ceremonial contexts, either worn directly on the face or attached to a larger basketry framework placed over the wearer's head. Miniature masks such as this one, are similar in form to the larger dance masks, and are used by men for personal protection and magical purposes as a talisman or charm, and carried during hunts in the warrior’s woven bag (bilum) to insure a successful hunt. These small masks are intended as reminders of the spirit world, and they were also created to adorn other sacred objects, such as flutes, or attached to larger costumes when they have a hole to hang them from on the top, or used as a men's house ornament.

Excellent condition. Wear consistent with age and use. Traces of dark reddish brown pigment. Heavy encrusted old patina. Size approx. 15,2cm x 5,5cm x 4,8cm.

For a similar example see:

Miniature mask, Fowler Museum at UCLA, Accession Number: X65.7779 (

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