Watch a video to find out.
Stay logged in
Go to Navigation
Go to Content
Go to Search
Back to browse highlights
Browse current and upcoming exhibitions and events.
This artwork is not on display
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.
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
© 2000–2013 The Metropolitan Museum of Art. All rights reserved.