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Title

Baba tagwa mask

mid 20th century


Artist

Abelam people

Papua New Guinea


About

An Abelam 'baba tagwa' mask is made from rattan through coiling, built up from a circular cane frame at neck level. This is often painted with natural earth pigments around the eye areas and with geometric patterns around the side of the mask.

During tambuan ceremonies, the wearer of the mask has a costume of shredded sago palm fronds that conceals dancer's identity. A garland of inedible bright orange and green fruit, called 'mban', is sometimes worn around the collar of the mask and leaves are often woven into the openwork of the crest and hung from the loop at the end of the nose. The wearer of the costume act as both a clown and policeman to keep the uninitiated from witnessing certain events.

The 'baba' figure is found throughout the Abelam area but the style of the helmet mask varies from region to region.


Details


Other Title

Helmet mask


Cultural origin

Abelam people


Date

mid 20th century


Media category

Ceremonial object


Materials used

coil-woven plant fibre, rattan, grey, yellow, red and black pigments


Dimensions

45.7 cm height :

0 - Whole; 45.7 cm


Credit

Purchased 1965


Location

Not on display


Accession number

IA3.1965


Artist information

Abelam people

Works in the collection

4


Shown in 3 exhibitions

Exhibition history


Referenced in 2 publications

Bibliography


Natalie Wilson, Hunting the collectors: Pacific collections in Australian museums, art galleries and archives, '(Works of) paradise and yet: Stanley Gordon Moriarty, Tony Tuckson and the collection of Oceanic Art at the Art Gallery of New South Wales', pg. 221-241, Newcastle upon Tyne, 2007, 233.

1965 Acquisitions, Sydney, 1965, 80. cat.no. 144