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Mask (Kavat)

Arts of the Pacific Islands

Worn during spectacular night dances, this helmet mask represents a leaf spirit, one of the many bush spirits depicted by kavat bark-cloth masks.

The mask is formed by stretching bark cloth over a thin cane frame. The pigments that decorate these masks have general symbolic associations: red with masculinity, reminiscent of the flames through which the mask dances at night; black with femininity, the soot of cooking fires, and fertile earth; and white with the spirit world.
MEDIUM Barkcloth, pigment, cane
DATES late 19th or early 20th century
DIMENSIONS 50 x 11 x 29 in. (127 x 27.9 x 73.7 cm)  (show scale)
CREDIT LINE Gift of Thomas and Katherine Brush
CATALOGUE DESCRIPTION White, red, and black painted designs on bark cloth over a wooden frame. Circular opening in lower back of mask. Condition: good, stitching evident on many parts of the mask, these are not repairs but part of construction
MUSEUM LOCATION This item is not on view
CAPTION Central Baining (Uramot or Kairak Subgroup). Mask (Kavat), late 19th or early 20th century. Barkcloth, pigment, cane, 50 x 11 x 29 in. (127 x 27.9 x 73.7 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Gift of Thomas and Katherine Brush, 1994.142. Creative Commons-BY (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 1994.142_SL3.jpg)
IMAGE overall, 1994.142_SL3.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph
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