woven reeds, plaited basketry, pigment
10 x 4 1/2 x 4 1/4 in.
This yam mask comes from the Abelam culture, an agrarian society residing in the tropical rainforests of Papua New Guinea. Composed of woven reeds and coated in pigments associated with death and vitality, masks like this would be displayed during ceremonial occasions in observation of the annual harvest. During these festivities men compete to determine who can grow the largest yam, indicating a successful crop return. The greatest yam of all receives this special mask type, which are created to honor the life-giving food staple and are not meant for human adornment. In Melanesia yams are regarded as sacreda living embodiment of the ancestors, that require reverence and proper supplication.
Gift of UCSB Art Affiliates
New Guinea, “New Guinea,” UCSB ADA Museum Omeka, accessed May 30, 2023, http://art-collections.museum.ucsb.edu/items/show/7340.