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Mask (Rom)

Arts of the Pacific Islands

On the island of Ambrym, masked performance is controlled by a complex system of copyright. Rights to the knowledge of mask and costume construction, as well as rights to perform them, must be purchased from the man who owns a mask’s copyright, and often only by men of certain ranks.

This rom mask was never meant to be seen as an isolated sculpture and cannot be fully understood without the dynamic costume, the performer’s movement, the accompanying music, and the audience’s response. Rom masks are typically adorned with feathers, barkcloth, leaves, hair, and other materials and are worn atop a costume of banana leaves. Each mask represents a specific ancestor spirit and would be performed publicly to show off a man’s newly achieved right to wear it.
CULTURE Ambrym
MEDIUM Wood, pigment, plant fibers
DATES 19th-20th century
DIMENSIONS 21 × 11 1/4 × 7 1/2 in. (53.3 × 28.6 × 19.1 cm)  (show scale)
MUSEUM LOCATION This item is not on view
EXHIBITIONS
ACCESSION NUMBER 2008.26.5
CREDIT LINE Gift of Altria
RIGHTS STATEMENT Creative Commons-BY
You may download and use Brooklyn Museum images of this three-dimensional work in accordance with a Creative Commons license. Fair use, as understood under the United States Copyright Act, may also apply. Please include caption information from this page and credit the Brooklyn Museum. If you need a high resolution file, please fill out our online application form (charges apply). For further information about copyright, we recommend resources at the United States Library of Congress, Cornell University, Copyright and Cultural Institutions: Guidelines for U.S. Libraries, Archives, and Museums, and Copyright Watch. For more information about the Museum's rights project, including how rights types are assigned, please see our blog posts on copyright. If you have any information regarding this work and rights to it, please contact copyright@brooklynmuseum.org.
CAPTION Ambrym. Mask (Rom), 19th-20th century. Wood, pigment, plant fibers, 21 × 11 1/4 × 7 1/2 in. (53.3 × 28.6 × 19.1 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Gift of Altria, 2008.26.5. Creative Commons-BY (Photo: , CUR.2008.26.5_back.jpg)
IMAGE back, CUR.2008.26.5_back.jpg., 2018
"CUR" at the beginning of an image file name means that the image was created by a curatorial staff member. These study images may be digital point-and-shoot photographs, when we don\'t yet have high-quality studio photography, or they may be scans of older negatives, slides, or photographic prints, providing historical documentation of the object.
CATALOGUE DESCRIPTION Flat cantilevered diamond-shaped mask with eyes and nose in relief on lower half of diamond. Surface is of plant fiber paste over a wood and fiber frame. Blue, white, red-brown, and black pigments cover the surface. Portions of wood stick out around the edge of the mask.
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Ambrym. <em>Mask (Rom)</em>, 19th-20th century. Wood, pigment, plant fibers, 21 × 11 1/4 × 7 1/2 in. (53.3 × 28.6 × 19.1 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Gift of Altria, 2008.26.5. Creative Commons-BY (Photo: , CUR.2008.26.5_back.jpg)