1960s – 1970s
30 x 20 cm
This mask represents a mythical bird; almost certainly a parrot or cockatoo-like creature. These birds are symbols of fertility, a fertility of the whole landscape, like Mother Nature. They are used specifically after the harvest of yams ( giant yams can be up to 3 metres long) in harvest ceremonies. The mask is tied at the top of the yam for ceremonial display, and further decorated with feathers, shells and many types of leaves and flowers.
This mask, called babamini in the Abelam language, is the face of the yam, and in a sense, the face of Mother Nature.
Yam masks are tightly woven, collected in the colonial period before Independence in PNG in 1975. This mask shows good patina from use and age. It is from the southern Abelam region of Wosera in the mountains inland from the North Coast of Papua New Guinea.
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