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Artist/Maker: Artist Unknown (Artist Unknown)

Date: late 19th to early 20th century
Medium: wood and paint
Overall: 27 5/8 x 10 x 5 1/4 in. (70.2 x 25.4 x 13.3 cm)
Classification: Clothing, Accessories and Jewelry
Credit Line: Gift of The Rubin - Ladd Foundation
Object number: 2005.43.28
DescriptionMurik Lake is near the coast just north of the Sepik River delta and is part of the larger Sepik River art tradition. This mask is very typical with its elongated oval face and exaggerated arching nose. Sepik men are quite proud of their large noses and perforate the nasal septum to add ornaments to emphasize its size. The long noses symbolize male genitals and evoke by association the whole spectrum of the aggressive male ethos of the Sepik warriors. Besides phallic associations, the elongated nose can evoke either the crocodiles or the weevil, two important totemic animals. Women with large noses are also considered quite beautiful. Masks can be worn in a variety of ceremonies from initiations to naven. They are frequently described as representing ancestors of the maternal clan come to participate in the communal ceremonies.
Not on view