Rare Barkcloth Mask with Seedcase Eyes, probably Muliama region, East Coast of Southern New Ireland, Papua New Guinea

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Lot 8
Rare Barkcloth Mask with Seedcase Eyes, probably Muliama region, East Coast of Southern New Ireland, Papua New Guinea

US$ 20,000 - 30,000
€ 19,000 - 28,000
Amended
Rare Barkcloth Mask with Seedcase Eyes, probably Muliama region, East Coast of Southern New Ireland, Papua New Guinea
lali or tilok
Barkcloth, seedcase, rattan, white pigment, wood, fiber
height 17in (43.2cm)

Provenance
Barbier-Mueller Museum, Geneva
Private American Collection

In reference to a similar mask acquired in 1896 by the Ethnologisches Museum, Berlin, Germany, Michael Gunn notes, "On the east coast we met Pitpittoka people who spoke of one of their masking traditions called tilok, which was used to honor the deceased. Berlin VI 13106 was identified by a Pitpittoka man as similar to the tilok masks that they had previously used."

Gunn also notes, "In comparison with other regions, the locality around Muliama is relatively well documented, particularly from the 1907-1910 period when the Deutsche Marine-Expedition established a base camp there for anthropologists...Although much anthropological work was undertaken around Muliama by these workers, no real record was made of the masking traditions of the north and east coast of southern New Ireland.

Several masks which resemble this one [see fig. 3] in the Barbier-Mueller Collection were purchased by Schlaginfaufen at Muliama and recorded with the names lali and tilok, but we do not know anything else about them.[...]

Until further research is undertaken, this group of masks collected from Muliama in the early part of this century will remain largely a mystery." (Ritual Arts of Oceania - New Ireland - in the Collections of the Barbier-Mueller Museum, Skira, Milan, 1997, p. 70)

Saleroom notices

  • Please note that the Barbier-Muller museum number is "BMG 4316/2" and is written on the back of the mask.
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