Papua New Guinea, East Sepik Province, Maprik area
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.
Galleries CLOSED due to current community health concerns
"I still remember the feeling of awe and disbelief when I was alone and walked in the room with those casts." --Ruth Tofle, chair of architecture, winner of the 2013 distinguished faculty award from the MU Alumni Association