Indiana University Bloomington IU Bloomington IUB


Objects associated with youth initiations, such as this mask, are found in many parts of the South Pacific islands and Africa. These initiations, which may last several months and often include periods of seclusion, are the rites by which young men and/or women receive the training and education necessary to be considered adult members of their communities. In addition to appearing at initiations, this mask was also worn at dances of a secret men's cult, of which little is known. The circular projections on the mask represent shell and tusk ornaments.

Astrolabe Bay, Papua New Guinea
Before 1925
Wood, pigment, incrustation
H. 16 in. (40.6 cm)
Sidney and Lois Eskenazi Museum of Art, Raymond and Laura Wielgus Collection, 2010.4