Mask - Malagan

Production date
Papua New Guinea
New Ire
See full details

Object Detail

Vanis type mask used in malagan representing a pig's head, Turbo petholatus opercula eyes. Plaited bush fibres hang from right side of mouth with the head of a hornbill hanging from the pig's mouth. A sea bird is present in front of pig's eyes, catching a fish. In total, seven fish encircle the pig head with palm leaf ribs extending out.

The top of the pig head is encased with resin and embedded with small sticks. A rattan framework supports the back portion of mask which is made of tapa and resin.

Eyes of pig, fish and birds are represented by opercula.
Production place
H976mm x W320mm x L417mm
Media/Materials description
Alstonia villosa lime wood, opercula from Turbo Petholatus, rattan, plaited bush fibres, resin, small sticks, bush fibres.
History and use
This Vanis type Malagan represents a pig's head, with the head of a hornbill hanging from its mouth. Atop its head is a sea bird which is presented in front of the pig's eyes, catching a fish.

Pig heads are considered an important part in malagan ritual activity. No ritual transaction is complete without the sacrifice of a pig and the offering of a pig's head to one or another of the important men present. The offering of a pig's head is a symbol of reciprocity, of a debt repaid.

Malagan ceremonies are large, intricate traditional cultural events that take place in parts of New Ireland province in Papua New Guinea. The word malagan also refers to wooden carvings which are prepared for the ceremonies, and to an entire system of traditional culture.
Registration number