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An image of Kavat mask by

Gazelle Peninsula, East New Britain Province, New Britain, Papua New Guinea

Kavat mask
Other titles:
Place of origin
Gazelle PeninsulaEast New Britain ProvinceNew BritainPapua New Guinea
Cultural origin
Baining people
collected 1965
Media categories
Ceremonial object, Sculpture
Materials used
barkcloth, rattan frame, red and black natural pigments

66.0 x 61.0 x 85.5 cm overall

Purchased 1976
Accession number
Not on display
Further information

Kavat masks are made of tapa cloth stretched over a rattan framework, and are painted black and red and sometimes also yellow. The distinguishing features of kavat masks are out-size round eyes and a dangling or bent appendage below the mouth. Because of their form and, more importantly, because of the way they are painted, these masks are linked with various animals and plants. Leaf or pig spirits are represented in conjunction with flora and fauna encountered in the bush or hunted there, and many other animal motifs are also used.

excerpt from Ingrid Heermann (ed.), 'Form colour inspiration: Oceanic art from New Britain', Arnoldsche, Stuttgart, 2001

Bibliography (1)

Art Gallery of New South Wales (Editor), Catalogue of acquisitions 1976, Sydney, 1976, 99 (illus.). 303