Vintage Sepik River Abelam Baba Tagwa Basketry Mask

  • Sale
  • $900


A Baba Tagwa Abelam Mask, Papau New Guineau.

A Fine well decorated mask with bulging eyes and good pigment. Ex collection Renate Shapiro purchased in 1960's in Manhattan, NY.

The Abelam and neighboring peoples of the Prince Alexander Mountains in the Sepik region of northeast New Guinea create several types of basketry masks. They include the type seen here, known in the Abelam language as baba tagwa, which is worn over the head like a helmet, as well as tje yam masks used to decorate the gigantic long yams grown and exchanged competitively by Abelam men. Among the Abelam, baba tagwa masks are associated with the male initiation cycle, in which they are worn by men clad in shaggy costumes made from strips of leaves. During certain ceremonies, these imposing masked figures serve as guards. Brandishing lengths of bamboo or other weapons, the baba tagwa drive off women, children, and uninitiated men, who are not permitted to witness the secret initiation rites.

Condition: excellent
Measures: 17"h x 13
Age 1960's or earlier.