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, shells, human hair, raffia, carving
  • Object Height/Width/Depth: 71 x 36 x 13 cm
    Object Height/Width/Depth: 27 15/16 x 14 1/8 x 5 1/8 in
  • Gift of Jean S. Lighton
  • Not on display
  • 2007.2860

The bird-like face has a large forehead and beak, ending in a smaller bird figure. The forehead is divided into vertical segments with three rows of pointed scales in black, white and red. The middle segment is black, flanked by red and the outermost segments are white. The figure has round spiraling shells for eyes, with thick eyebrows. The eyebrows are an arch of small shells over an arch of black hair. The beak has a black middle edge with red, white and black scales. The bird at the tip of the beak is black with red details on the wings. The sides of the beak are red and the flat area behind the beak is black, edged with red, white and black scales. Dark brown and light brown raffia borders most of the mask, except for the top.