Beautiful and Finely Woven Ceremonial Yam Mask – Yam Masks or “Babamini”, are made in the Wosera and Maprik areas of Papua New Guinea. These masks are ancestral spirit images used to decorate, consecrate, and celebrate the ancestors at the yam harvest festival.
This particular mask is really stunning. The weaving is smooth and tight. It has a really beautiful caramel-colored age patina and just a hint of some red paint. The face is almost spherical, a less common form. It has been used in several yam ceremonies.
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 and are then displayed. These yam ‘men’ are believed to be present as living beings capable of hearing and seeing. A man does not keep his yams but exchanges them with his traditional exchange partner. The partner with the biggest yams is seen to have the most power. Men make the basketry masks they put on the yams and paint them with clay pigments and natural paints. The masks are carefully stored each year after the yam ceremonies the repainted and reused the next year.
These wonderful, expressive masks are often overlooked by US collectors but are highly regarded by European collectors. Good yam masks are some of the only truly genuine, traditional, ceremonial masks still available at a reasonable price. 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 15 inches tall. It was collected in the mid-1980’s or earlier.
Priced at $125 plus $20 shipping costs within the US (Please see below for important shipping information outside the US.)
Total cost is $145
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