Abelam Helmet mask (Baba Tagwa)
Arawe shield from West New Britain Papua New Guinea
Object Type: Abelam Helmet mask (Baba Tagwa)
Locality: Abelam East Sepik Maprik area Papua New Guinea
Height: 59 cm
Description: Unlike most Abelam Helmet mask (Baba Tagwa) this ask has retained its natural pigment colours. It is extremely well made and presents beautifully.
The Abelam and neighbouring peoples of the Prince Alexander Mountains in the Sepik region of northeast New Guinea create several types of basketry masks. They include the type seen here, known in the Abelam language as baba tagwa, which is worn over the head like a helmet, as well as the yam masks used to decorate the gigantic long yams grown and exchanged competitively by Abelam men. Among the Abelam, baba tagwa masks are associated with the male initiation cycle, in which they are worn by men clad in shaggy costumes made from strips of leaves. During certain ceremonies, these imposing masked figures serve as guards. Brandishing lengths of bamboo or other weapons, the baba tagwa drive off women, children, and uninitiated men, who are not permitted to witness the secret initiation rites.
Price: $1200 AUD