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Eharo Mask

Date:
early 20th century
Geography:
Papua New Guinea, Orokolo village, Papuan Gulf
Culture:
Elema people
Medium:
Barkcloth, cane, paint
Dimensions:
H. 29 1/2 x W. 21 x D. 16 in. (74.9 x 53.3 x 40.6 cm)
Classification:
Bark-Sculpture
Credit Line:
The Michael C. Rockefeller Memorial Collection, Gift of Nelson A. Rockefeller, 1972
Accession Number:
1978.412.725
  • Description

    The Elema people of the Papuan Gulf in southeast New Guinea formerly practiced an elaborate cycle of masked rituals. While some mask types were sacred, others, such as this eharo mask, were created primarily for amusement. To the Elema eharo were "maea morava eharu" ("things of gladness"), danced as a prelude to more sacred rituals. Eharo represent supernatural beings as well as humorous figures, such as lecherous old men.
    They were made and worn by young men from neighboring villages at the request of the village hosting the ceremony. As they entered the host village, the women pelted them with shredded coconut to neutralize their seductive powers. Now harmless, the eharo danced surrounded by large groups of women to the amusement of the assembled crowd.

  • Provenance

    Francis Edgar Williams, Papua, New Guinea, until 1940; Ralph C. Altman, Los Angeles, until 1958; Nelson A. Rockefeller, New York, 1958, on loan to The Museum of Primitive Art, New York, 1958–1972; The Museum of Primitive Art, New York, 1972–1978

  • See also
    Who
    What
    Where
    When
    In the Museum
    Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History
    MetPublications
311171

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