Yam Mask, Abelam People, New Guinea. Yam Masks or “Babamini”, are made by the Abelam and Arapesh peoples of Papua New Guinea. These masks are ancestral spirit images used to decorate, consecrate, and celebrate the ancestors at the yam harvest festival.
Ceremonial yams grow up to 12 feet long and a man’s status is judged by his ability to grow big yams. During the festival, the yams are decorated with masks, flowers, fruit, and leaves until they resemble men at the last stage of initiation. These yam ‘men’ are believed to be present as living beings capable of hearing and seeing. Men make the masks. They are carefully stored each year after the yam ceremonies then repainted and reused the next year.
Good yam masks are some of the only truly genuine, traditional, ceremonial masks still available. This area has, more than many parts of New Guinea, maintained its traditional culture to a great degree because of its relative remoteness and the very real dangers of entering the area.
This yam mask measures 9 inches tall. It was collected in the mid-1980’s or earlier.
Priced at $75 plus $10 shipping costs within the US (Please see below for important shipping information outside the US.)
Total cost is $85
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