Papua New Guinea, Bougainville or Nissan Island, Bougainville province, Nissan or Bougainville Island
Bougainville or Nissan Island
Barkcloth, paint, wood, bamboo
H. 29 1/4 x W. 21 1/2 x D. 25 in. (74.3 x 54.6 x 63.5 cm)
The Michael C. Rockefeller Memorial Collection, Purchase, Nelson A. Rockefeller Gift, 1967
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 354
Masks are rare in the Solomon Islands and were only regularly made on Nissan, Buka, and Bougainville, the northernmost islands in the archipelago. This boldly painted mask, made of barkcloth stretched over a cane frame and worn over the head like a helmet, comes from the island of Bougainville. Masks similar in some respects to those of Bougainville occur on the nearby island of Nissan, where they represent a dangerous spirit named Kokorra. While the precise significance and imagery of this Bougainville mask is uncertain, the upraised ears, prominent brow ridge, wide staring eyes, and bared teeth indicate that it too may depict a fearsome spirit.
Collected by Dr. Albert Hahl; Nikolaus Heinrich, Stuttgart, Germany, until 1967; (Parke-Bernet Gallery, New York, October 21, 1967, no. 83); The Museum of Primitive Art, New York, 1967–1978
Art of Oceania, Africa, and the Americas from the Museum of Primitive Art. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1969, no. 62.
Kjellgren, Eric. Oceania: Art of the Pacific Islands in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York and New Haven: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2007, 97, 163-4.