Harold and Mary Cohen : The Papua New Guinea Slide Collection
Object ID:
Agent Shown with Selected Mask Painted on Her Face
Kaminabit, Middle Sepik, Papua New Guinea
Woman standing with face painted like the mask she holds in her right arm. She wears a white t—shirt.

A close—up shows a tourist on Kaminabit Island holding the mask she had commissioned the artist to paint. The wooden mask of a Middle Sepik River cult is part of an extensive ceremonial costume with highly complex symbols that are derived from shells, bones, pottery and carved wood. The orange—red and white clays along with the black charcoal paints of the mask formerly used natural dyes from plants. However, access to trade stores has enabled artists to use commercial dyes. The stylized curvature of the eyes with cowrie shells inserted and the everted and emphasized nostrils are traditional in many of the Iatmul villagers along the Middle Sepik River region.
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