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Preview image of work. polychrome, wood, plaster, and yarn,  Malagan Mask 595


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Malagan Mask

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Artist Unidentified


Malagan Mask

Creation Date



19th century


21 1/4 in. x 8 1/2 in. x 16 1/8 in. (54 cm. x 21.6 cm. x 41 cm.)

Object Type


Creation Place

Oceania or Australasia, Papua New Guinea, New Ireland

Medium and Support

polychrome, wood, plaster, and yarn

Credit Line

Gift of Harold M. Sewall


This artwork may be under copyright. For further information, please consult the Museum’s Copyright Terms and Conditions.

Accession Number


The Malagan ceremony takes place among the tribes of New Ireland, an island off the coast of Papua New Guinea. The ritual is meant to complete the cycle of mourning for those who have died, sending off their spirits that are represented through masks like these, as well as through painted panels and other sculptures. They were used during the elaborate ceremonies, which sometimes last days and include trade, feasting, music, song, and dance. Once the ritual is completed the masks lose their power and meaning, and are no longer needed. Traditionally they were burned, but with the increased presence of Europeans in the late nineteenth century, Melanesians realized they could sell the sculptures to the visiting westerners hungry for “exotic” ritual objects from cultures around the world.

Object Description

See attached pdf article (under surrogate list) "New Ireland Art of the South Pacific". A good reference for mask.

Additional Media

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left rear/detail
Additional Image side and rear/detail
side and rear/detail