A Baining barkcloth mask, vungvung, Gazelle Peninsular, New Britain. approx. 360cm long
Lot 339W
A Baining barkcloth mask, vungvung,
Gazelle Peninsular, New Britain. approx. 360cm long
Sold for £1,875 (US$ 3,036) inc. premium

Lot Details
A Baining barkcloth mask, vungvung,
Gazelle Peninsular, New Britain.
the rattan and bamboo frame overlaid with barkcloth and painted with geometric motifs in black and red, the large open jaws issuing bamboo tube, below large circular eyes with painted concentric circles, grass and feather tufts, approx. 360cm long

Footnotes

  • Provenance: Patricia Withofs, Australia, 1994.

    Cf. Anthony JP Meier, Oceanic Art, 1995, p. 369-70, fig. 404 for a photograph of Baining performers wearing vungvung and kavat masks. Baining society is strongly structured by the concept of duality which is reaffirmed through ceremony, so that dances are divided into day and night performances emphasising the duality of women's work vs. men's work, gardening vs. hunting, village life vs. forest life etc. Day dances (hareiga) are performed as part of mortuary ceremonies and also to celebrate the impending taro harvest, thus reconfirming the cycle of death and birth. Night dances (miaus) involve dancers wearing large vungvung masks which are dramatically displayed by the flickering light of fires.

    Cf. Douglas Newton ed. Arts of the South Seas, The collections of the Musee Barbier-Mueller, 1999, p. 256, fig 1, and pp.260-1 for a discussion of night-dance masks of the central Baining (Kairak and Uramot), and the northwest Baining (Chachang). The triangles beneath the eyes are said to represent the tears of the spirit mourning its death, whilst the red and black pigments represent the 'blood' of male and female respectively.
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