A Kapriman mask

The men's house was the central focus of ritual and everyday life for most males of the Sepik River from middle youth to adulthood. Men slept there, lounged there, talked about the village's problems, made objects both practical and sacred, and practiced there the often complex cyclical rituals that kept the world and their lives in order. These masks aided in their becoming an overpowering physical manifestation of male potency and prestige. From the central of the front facade, the gable mask, conceived as a magical protector, and looked down threateningly on all who came within a certain distance of the men's house. The masks in most cases probably represented the great clan mother, and in some areas the entire men's house was understood as the clan spirit's body, so that when inside the male residents were acting within the great mother's energizing womb. 

A Gable mask
Kapriman people
Blackwater, Middle Sepik, PNG
Basketery, sculpture
Natural fibers, pigments, feathers, bamboe, wood
L. 140 cm
First quarter 20th century
Provenance: Sotheby’s Amsterdam, ex-lot 20, 30-09-1987
Price on request
A Kapriman mask