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Title

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

mid 20th century


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.


Details


Other Titles

Helmet mask

baba tagwa 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

7


Shown in 3 exhibitions

Exhibition history


Referenced in 3 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.

Aboriginal and Melanesian art, Sydney, 1973, 46. cat.no. 99, 'Helmet mask. Abelam. Basketry, painted. 45.7h. P3.1965'

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