Fine Mask Papua New Guinea

P R O V E N A N C E: Old private collection, collected in the 1960’s
Sepik River area; KanduanumVillage
High 74 cm

Fine Mask Papua New Guinea.

* On the Sepik River, there is a world-renowned tradition of wood carving. These carvers create forms of plants or animals, because they believe these are their ancestor beings and because they feel they are beautiful. They also create traditional skull portraits. Also well represented in the collections of museums around the world is the Malagan art tradition of New Ireland.Gunn, Michael; Phillipe Feltier (2006). New Ireland: Art of the South Pacific. Milan: Continents Editions. ISBN 88-7439-369-5.

Even though sea shells are no longer the currency of Papua New Guinea – sea shells were abolished as currency in 1933 – this heritage is still present in local customs. In certain parts of the country a groom must bring a bride price to the wedding ceremony. In some cases this is paid in golden-edged clam shells [1]. In other areas, a dowry is payable rather than bride price. These payments may take the form of shell money, food, pigs, cash, or other goods. In some parts of the New Guinea highlands, people engage in colorful local rituals that are called “sing-sings”. They paint themselves and dress up with feathers, pearls and animal skins to represent birds, trees or mountain spirits. Sometimes an important event, such as a legendary battle, would be enacted at such a musical festival.

Culture of Violence The level of violence against women is among the highest in the world. Some 70 percent of women in Papua New Guinea will be raped or physically assaulted in their lifetime. A string of particularly violent sorcery-related crimes (where a woman is raped, killed or maimed after being thought to be a witch) and gang-rapes earlier this year (which year?), caused an outcry from the international community. In February, a 20-year-old mother was stripped, tortured, and set on fire after being accused of witchcraft, reports AFP. In April, an elderly woman was beheaded for the same reason.

The United Nations spoke out against these attacks, urging the government in PNG to take action. Alarming incidents of violence perpetrated against persons accused of sorcery and witchcraft, with women being affected disproportionally, particularly widows or other women with no family to protect them according to the UN. Child abuse is rampant.

There is a rich and diverse tradition of visual art. In particular, Papua New Guinea is world-famous for carved wooden sculpture: masks, canoes, story-boards. Many of the best collections of these are held in overseas museums. Those identified as being in the first wave of contemporary art in Papua New Guinea are: Mathias Kauage OBE (1944–2003),”The first missionary 1977″. National Gallery of Australia. Retrieved 2007-06-16.Timothy Akis, Jakupa Ako and Joe Nalo, all from the tough urban area of Port Moresby. Kauage won Australia’s Blake Prize for Religious Art, four of his works are in the Glasgow Museum of Modern Art, and he had a solo show in 2005 at the Horniman Museum, “Kauage’s Visions: Art from Papua New Guinea”. Other noted Papua New Guinean visual artists include Larry Santana, Martin Morububuna and Heso Kiwi.Niugini Arts


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