Lot: 307

Rare anthropomorphic face mask

Papua New Guinea - East Sepik Province - Yuat River, Biwat

Provenance Size Starting price / estimated price
Frederick North, London, Great Britain
Cornelis Pieter Meulendijk (1912-1979), Rotterdam, The Netherlands
Christie's London, "The Meulendijk Collection of Tribal Art", Part I, 21 October 1980, Lot 296
Alexander Kubetz (1946-2023), Munich, Germany
H: 12.6 inch 15000 EUR / 30000 EUR

wood, pigments, rest.

Such round masks of distinctive bold forms with naturalistic noses, heavy overhanging brows and protruding open mouths are unique to the Biwat.

According to Alfred Bühler (1969, p. 86), they represent clan spirits and were worn by a male elder who was in charge of initiation ceremonies. He also reports that they were traded outside of the Yuat River region, and have been used at various places along the Lower and Middle Sepik River.


Wardwell, Allen, Island Ancestors, Oceanic Art from the Masco Collection, Fort Worth 1994, p. 57, ill. 14 Bühler, Alfred, Kunst der Südsee, Zürich 1969 Kelm, Heinz, Kunst vom Sepik, Band III, Berlin 1968, ill. 207-209