This 1970s malangan wanis mask has a snake carved on either side of the face and one on each of the ear pieces. The other motif on the ear pieces, the small remora pilot fish that attaches itself to large sharks, is the symbol of one of the clans of Tabar Island who would have owned this specific design. The black snakes are probably symbols of death (source Dr. Michael Gunn, Curator, National Gallery of Australia, (eref. Special Pieces, Oceanic Art Society Newsletter, page 12, January 2010).
Please note that the reflective brown pigment on the face of the mask is dried breadfruit tree sap which was deliberately applied as a pigment that provides a more natural skin tone. (Source: personal conversation with famous Tabar carver Matthew Salle).
Size: mask 26 x 46 x 24 cm / 10 x 18 x 9 � inches. Ear pieces each 69 x 14 cm / 27 � x 5 � inches. Please note some loss to the very tips of the ear pieces.
Provenance: Ex- David Baker collection, Sydney. The late David Baker was a dedicated supporter of the malangan rites and for many years he provided the money to pay carvers, build carving shelters and buy pigs for the feasts necessary to hold the malangan funerary ceremonies. This mask came from his private collection and was sold through New Guinea Gallery, Sydney, which he co-owned.