Mask (baba)

20th century, 1950–2000
Artist Unidentified, Pacific Islander

Object Place: Papua New Guinea


Overall: 34 x 26 x 38 cm (13 3/8 x 10 1/4 x 14 15/16 in.)

Accession Number


Medium or Technique

Plaited vine (Lygodium sp), pigment

On View

Arts of Asia, Oceania, and Africa Gallery (Gallery 177)


Africa and Oceania, Contemporary Art



In the 1960s Abelam artists commonly made basketry masks from vines. They applied a fresh coat of pigment to the mask for each masquerade to reinvigorate its powers. Here the configuration recalls the pig, which plays an important role in the Abelam worldview. Staged as openers at initiations and ceremonies, masquerades are performed to this day by dancers of this group from the Sepik River area. Full costume includes the mask and a large fiber skirt adorned with leaves and fruits.


in marker inside:"NGS10"


1967, acquired in Angoram, Sepik, Papua New Guinea by Geneviève McMillan (b. 1922 - d. 2008), Cambridge, MA; 2008, to the Geneviève McMillan and Reba Stewart Foundation, Cambridge; 2009, gift of the Geneviève McMillan and Reba Stewart Foundation to the MFA. (Accession Date: June 17, 2009)

Credit Line

Gift of Geneviève McMillan in memory of Reba Stewart