Spencer Museum of Art The University of Kansas

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mai or mwai (mask)
  • Papua New Guinea
  • mai or mwai (mask), late 1900s–1977
  • Where object was made: Middle Sepik, Papua New Guinea
  • wood, pigment, shell, cowrie shell, human hair, cassowary feathers, carving
  • Object Height/Width/Depth: 89 x 33 x 16 cm
    Object Height/Width/Depth: 35 1/16 x 13 x 6 1/4 in
  • Gift of Jean S. Lighton
  • Not on display
  • 2007.2866

The human-like face has a prominent extension at the bottom of the nose. It is an oval mask with a mostly white face. It has a red circle with a hole in the center of the forehead, inside a black oval outline. There are raised shell eyebrows with black triangle outlines above them and cowrie shell eyes with black triangles below. It has a red nose with a white ridge and a transverse hole. The extended part of the nose is red with horizontal white bands. There is a spiral shell within circles of small shells on each cheek, with a large black triangle above, to the hairline. There is an "O" for the mouth, outlined with shells, continuing in a line to the chin and around another spiral shell. There are black curling lines to either side of the chin. There are thin black feathers around the head above the ears. There is raffia fringe around the face below the ears.