Mouth ornament

Possibly Astrolabe Bay, Papua New Guinea
20th century, 1950–2000
Artist unknown, Pacific Islander, Artist Unidentified, Pacific Islander

Object Place: Papua New Guinea


Overall: 36 x 34 x 6 cm (14 3/16 x 13 3/8 x 2 3/8 in.)

Accession Number


Medium or Technique

Braided fiber, nassa shells, porcelain shells, string (added)

Not On View


Africa and Oceania, Contemporary Art, Textiles and Fashion Arts



Men held objects like this one between their teeth, covering parts of the face and chin. They were carried in this fashion during warfare, an activity that ended many years ago. This particular mouthpiece may have been made for western visitors to Papua New Guinea.


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