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Yam Mask

Yam mask
Yam Mask
Papua New Guinea, East Sepik Province, Maprik area
Abelam people
20th century
Rattan, feathers, and pigment
Gift of Dr. and Mrs. Werner Muensterberger

The Abelam people reside in the foothills of the Prince Alexander Mountains, just north of the Sepik River. The men's cults in this area revolve around yam agriculture, and the large, five-foot-long yams are cultivated only by the initiated. The best of these yams become the focus of the harvest festival, during which ancestral spirits are believed to temporarily inhabit the yams. This finely woven mask was attached to a yam and represented the face of an ancestor.

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