Murik Lakes, Coastal Sepik River, East Sepik Province, Papua New Guinea
Wood, shells, pigment
Height: 16 in (40.6 cm)
Harry A. Franklin, Beverly Hills, acquired by the 1960s
Ulli Beier and Peter Aris observed that "all important masks have the spider design occurring on them somewhere. The spider is the perfect designer. The fine, precise lines of its web and the intricacy of the design it produces symbolize the kind of perfection the carver himself is aiming at." (Beier and Aris, "Sigia: Artistic Design in Murik Lakes", Gigibori, Vol. 2, No. 2, October 1975, p. 17). These designs, known as mabranarogo, appear here in the upper and lower registers of the mask. The mask has the large, curved, trunk-like nose which is one of the most prominent features of Murik Lakes art. Beier and Aris note that the people of the Murik Lakes "see these prominent noses as identifying spirits. They distinguish clearly between carvings that feature a human nose [see lot 21 in the present auction, the kandimbong ancestor figure] and those that have a spirit nose." (ibid., p. 21).