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HOME : African & Tribal Art : Oceanic Art : Yam Mask
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Yam Mask - DE.015
Origin: Sepik Region, Papua New Guinea
Circa: 20 th Century AD
Dimensions: 9.75" (24.8cm) high x 8.75" (22.2cm) wide x 10" (25.4cm) depth
Collection: Oceanic
Medium: Fiber, Paint
Condition: Extra Fine

Location: United States
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One of the major focuses of ceremonial life among the Abelam is the competitive growth and exchange of long yams. The Abelam cultivate two distinct categories of yams- a small variety used as ordinary food and long yams, massive tubers that can be as much as twelve feet long. A man's social status is determined largely by his success in growing large yams. Each man has a permanent exchange partner to whom he ceremonially presents his largest yams following the annual harvest , later receiving those of his rival in return. Men who are consistently able to give their partners longer yams than they receive gain great prestige.

Lavishly adorned for the presentation ceremony , the finest long yams are essentially transformed into human images, decorated in the manner of men in full ceremonial regalia. The heads of the enormous tubers are adorned with specially made yam masks such as the one featured here, which are made exclusively for yams and are never worn by humans. - (DE.015)


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