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, cowrie shells, raffia, carving
  • Object Height/Width/Depth: 77 x 37 x 12 cm
    Object Height/Width/Depth: 30 5/16 x 14 9/16 x 4 3/4 in
  • Gift of Jean S. Lighton
  • Not on display
  • 2007.2867

The human like face has a long thin nose, ending in a bird head. The forehad is black with curlicues carved into it, colored red or white. There is a row of horn-like bumps down the middle of the forehead. There are cowrie shell eyes. The cheeks are decorated with scallops, the raised lines painted black, the recessed lines painted white on the right and alternating red and white on the left. The nose is long, thin and black, ending with a long bird neck and head, indicated with red and white details. The mouth is indicated with a black circle, and black and white lines ripple outward. The very large chin is covered with raised scalloped lines in black, the grooves between alternating red or white. The edge of the mask has a fringe of rafia in brown, darker brown and green.