A finely carved mask from the Chambri Lakes region of Papua, New Guinea, this exotic piece is made of light colored, dense wood. The mask has eyes of inset cowrie shells and a headpiece with a totemic bird projection extending upward from the forehead. The bird has a carved beak and also has cowrie shell eyes. There are dozens of species of birds of paradise in New Guinea and for many indigenous groups the birds have special powers that assure the well-being of the people. The face has open nostrils, a downturned mouth and was dabbed with red pigment both front and back.
The mask measures nearly 14 inches long from beak to chin, 6 1/4 inches across at the widest point and projects from the wall 3 1/4 inches at the nose. There is braided brown twine tied in a loop for hanging and it can also be propped on an easel or stand. It weighs slightly over a pound and is in excellent condition. Probably made in the second half of the twentieth century, this handsome mask makes an eye-catching display alone or in a collection.