Mask - Malagan

Production date
Papua New Guinea
New Ire
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Object detail

Mask in a stylised interpretation of a male face, with wide gaping mouth.
Rattan framework is implemented for extended part of mask, excluding face.
Entire mask (with exception of face) is encased with lime and embedded with small sticks (which have been broken off). Bottom of lime is bordered by resin.

Colours: black, red, white.
Production date
Production place
L325mm x W187mm
Media/Materials description
Rattan, lime, resin, opercula from Turbo Petholatus, Alstonia villosa lime wood
History and use
The vanis type malagan,Tatanua is produced in the northern part of New Ireland and Tabar Island.

Early ethnographic accounts suggested that the word 'Tatanua' incorporated the local names or variants for the spirit 'tanua'; or the soul of the deceased individual.

The Tatanua mask does not represent an individual or his spirit, but looks "just like a true man" (Gunn, 1997:60). Not simply in physical characteristics, but within a broader sense of culturally defined male capabilities (Clay, 1987:66).

An exclusively male ritual, the Tatanua's dance preparations take place within a sacred men's enclosure, away from the presence of women.
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