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Pacific art

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Title

Baba or yau-baba (bell-shaped woven mask)

mid 20th century
collected 1965


Artist

Abelam people

Papua New Guinea


About

'Baba' masks form part of a full-body costume that is used during initiations. 'Yau-baba' masks are used in communal and private 'yam scenes' – displayed in the secret room of the yam-storage house together with 'urungwall figures' – to promote the growth of yams. They may also be shown together with shell rings in a private yam scene. A 'yau-baba' usually has its own name and is also linked to success in hunting pigs.

The pigments used on woven 'baba' or 'yau-baba' masks, 'urungwall' figures and 'bai' paintings are sourced from natural ochres and paints. Colours are believed to have magical properties if used with spells or mixed with certain ingredients.

[entry from Exhibition Guide for 'Melanesian art: redux', 2018, cat no 24]


Details


Other Titles

Helmet mask

baba tagwa mask


Cultural origin

Abelam people


Dates

mid 20th century
collected 1965


Materials used

coil-woven rattan cane, plant fibre, red ochre and white pigment


Dimensions

38.5 x 28.0 x 34.0 cm


Credit

Purchased 1965


Location

Not on display


Accession number

389.1994


Artist information

Abelam people

Works in the collection

7


Shown in 2 exhibitions

Exhibition history


Referenced in 1 publication

Bibliography


Tony Tuckson, Aboriginal and Melanesian art, Sydney, 1973, 46. cat.no. 98, 'Helmet mask. Abelam. Basketry, painted. 43h. Collected 1965 (68A)'