A rare Tami Islands balum cult mask, Melanesia, Papua New Guinea
David Rosenthal, San Francisco
Private Collection, California
cf. Meyer, 1995, figure 161 for a similar example.
According to Kaeppler, Kaufman & Newton, "The balum cult involves both the pursuit of the energy of souls following death and the appearance, amid the whirring of bull-roarers, of an illustrious spirit in the course of balum inter-regional festivals, which are held every ten to eighteen years. The balum ceremonial also includes, in addition to the construction of a special cult house, the sacrifice of domestic pigs, and the initiation of young boys (including circumcision), which is followed by a a period of seclusion during which traditional knowledge is passed on to them. In initiation contexts, a large mask with an imposing wooden face seems to play a pivotal role." (1993, page 590).