Oceania, Papua New Guinea, Upper Sepik River region, Abelam peoples, ca. mid-20th century CE. A wonderful, hand-carved wood spirit mask known as a yena presenting an ovoid form and adorned in red, yellow, white, and black pigments. The stylized visage is carved to be concave with projecting features, such as target-motif eyes under an arched brow, a pointed nose, and a heart-shaped, smiling mouth. A set of 3 downward-pointing spikes decorate the verso and the stick-like base all served for the mask to be inserted into a yam pile during the Abelam tribe's annual yam harvest festival. The festival consists of 3 rituals, called "yena," "minja," and "nokwi." Masks like this example are used during the yena ritual. Size: 8" W x 30.375" H (20.3 cm x 77.2 cm); 32.125" H (81.6 cm) on included custom stand.
Provenance: private New York, New York, USA collection; ex-Dr. Edward A. Spiegel collection, New York, USA
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Collection label on base. Repairs to top with loss. Some scratches, nicks, and abrasions. Otherwise, excellent with nice remaining pigments.