an ancestral spirit mask

  • Ol man bilong Sepik i wokim planti tumbuan.
    The Sepik people make many spirit masks.


Some of the most creative examples of tribal art are the masks, which vary in style and design from region to region. Traditionally, these played a key role in religious ceremonies, but today they are mostly carved for decoration.

In the Sepik area, masks are usually made from wood and decorated with shells, hair and pig tusks, and in Maprik district, yam masks are woven from fiber or rattan. The Chambri Lakes in Sepik is renowned for its styled masks, typified by their elongated faces and glossy black finish. Likewise, the Kaminabit and Tambanum people have a reputation for their distinctive mask designs. The National Mask Festival, held in Rabaul in July, offers a unique chance to see the many different styles of masks from around the country.

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