Kanak. <em>Mask (Pwemwe)</em>, 19th or early 20th century. Wood, 10 1/2 x 4 1/2 x 3 3/4 in. (26.7 x 11.4 x 9.5 cm). Brooklyn Museum, By exchange, 42.243.19. Creative Commons-BY (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 42.243.19_SL1.jpg)

Mask (Pwemwe)


Medium: Wood

Geograhical Locations:

Dates:19th or early 20th century

Dimensions: 10 1/2 x 4 1/2 x 3 3/4 in. (26.7 x 11.4 x 9.5 cm)


Accession Number: 42.243.19

Image: 42.243.19_SL1.jpg,

Catalogue Description:
Mask fashioned from long, narrow, carved piece of dark wood. The facial features of the mask are carved at the center of the wood. Forehead swells above a continuous V-shaped ridge which defines the eyebrows, eyes are closed (and not perforated), nose is bulbous with spherical nostrils, and mouth is open. Around the perimeter of the piece of wood are numerous small holes; at top center there is one larger hole. There are holes at top and bottom for fastening.These masks were traditionally used for funerary ceremonies of Chiefs and may have been associated with the ancestor god Gomawe. In its complete form, the mask might have been adorned with a beard of human hair and a headdress surmounted by a mass of human hair cut from the heads of mourners. The masker was able to see through the curved mouth, and would wear a cloak made of pigeon feathers. The mask sometimes was painted black, the color painted on the bodies of mourners and symbolic of the roads leading to the land of the dead.

Brooklyn Museum