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Title

Mask

mid 20th century
collected 1969


Artists

Unknown Artist


About

The Fore people of the eastern highlands became well known through the research of Dr Carleton Gajdusek in the 1950s. Dr Gajdusek connected the fatal neurological disease known as 'kuru' to the past practice of funerary cannibalism.

Sorcery and the threat of war was once part of daily life for the Fore. Ancestor spirits, ghosts of the recently deceased and nature spirits were all part of a complex body of beliefs that emphasised fecundity, strength and mutual collaboration. With the introduction of Christianity during the 1950s, the Fore surrendered many traditional ceremonial practices.

When Stan Moriarty visited Ofafina village in North Fore territory in 1969 he witnessed dances which incorporated human skulls into masks covering the face. Christian missionaries banned the use of skulls, which were replaced by carved wooden masks.

[Exhibition text for 'Plumes and pearlshells: art of the New Guinea highlands', AGNSW, 2014]


Details


Cultural origin

Fore people


Dates

mid 20th century
collected 1969


Materials used

wood, rattan, vine, cassowary feathers (Casuarius), pig tusks, coix seeds (Coix lacryma-jobi), nassa shells (Nassarius), plant fibres, plant fibre string


Dimensions

104.0 x 61.0 x 20.0 cm


Credit

Purchased 1977


Location

Not on display


Accession number

284.1977



Shown in 2 exhibitions

Exhibition history


Referenced in 2 publications

Bibliography


Tony Tuckson, Aboriginal and Melanesian art, Sydney, 1973, 31 (illus.), 50. cat.no. H44

Natalie Wilson (Editor), Plumes and pearlshells: art of the New Guinea highlands, Sydney, 2014, 81 (colour illus.), 160. cat.no. 26