These masks are not made for humans to use but instead adorn the yams during festival.
In the Sepik River Region of Papua New Guinea yams play a prominent role in the agricultural and ceremonial practices of the Abelam people. For almost half of the year men nurture their yams carefully as their personal status is judged by their ability to produce large yams. These giants can measure between 9 – 12 feet in length and they play a crucial role in the annual yam festival where they are publicly displayed. They are embellished with feathers, flowers, paint and masks. The large decorated yams are believed to be live embodiment of the ancestors and the masks play a central role in representing the spiritual beings.
Men weave the yam masks with human and animal characteristics and then typically cover them with clay pigment and dyes. A masterful weaver will produce a mask that is tightly woven, clear in form and idea and that has a visual presence that easily conveys the spirit of the ancestor. The application of paint animates the finished mask; paint is the transformative ingredient that changes the status of the mask from an inanimate thing to living spirit.
Condition: In good condition with age appropriate ware.