Lot 107: 20th C. PNG Sepik River Woven Dance Costume - 5 ft!
October 27, 2016
Louisville, CO, USALive Auction
Papua New Guinea, Middle Sepik River, mid-20th century CE. This is an enormous woven dance costume, made of rattan fiber, with two faces, one on the chest, and one on the head; the mask is decorated with feathers and different styles and colors of woven rattan. The rattan is painted with red clay, white lime, and charcoal based pigments. Dark feathers outline the faces, giving the appearance of beard and hair; these feathers may come from cassowaries, chickens, or other birds. The costume has arm holes for wearing, and a skirt made of sago fronds that will move and catch the eye during a dance. This is a huge, delightful piece that will start a lot of conversations! Each mask is unique, with this one bearing a close resemblance to one from Palembai Village, and to another previously held by the Children's Museum of Indianapolis that is from Kabriman Village. Papua New Guinea is an amazingly culturally diverse area, with people in each hilly area and river valley producing interesting and unique artwork; both Palembai and Kabriman villages are part of its Blackwater Lakes area, in the Middle Sepik River region (which flows northwest from the central highlands that dominate PNG to empty into the Bismarck Sea on the north coast). Masks like this one may represent water or bush spirits. When they are not being used, they hang in the ceiling of houses made specifically for them. Size: 22.5" W x 59.5" H (57.2 cm x 151.1 cm)
Provenance: Ex - Adeon Gallery, Nick Poolos collection, Chicago, IL acquired before 1970
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Condition Report: Excellent condition, with expected wear.