Boiken Bird Mask

An extrordinary mask representing the head of a Papuan frogmouth (Podargus papuensis). The mask was worn in-front of the face and held by a cross-bar clenched in the dancers teeth.

The Papuan Frogmouth is actually a nocturnal bird that belongs to a family called Nightjars. It is the largest Frogmouth of its type reaching up to 60 cm in length and a master of disguise with incredible camouflage skills as their mottled brown, grey and beige patterned feathers, blend seamlessly into tree bark.

Boiken Area, North of the Mouth of the Sepik River, PNG, Melanesia. Woven cane, wood and various layers of traditional pigments. 32.5 x 34.5 x 28 cm. 20th century.

Provenance Collected in the field by Michael Hamson. No other early and used mask of this type is presently recorded however an overmodeled Papuan frogmouth  skull (previously identified as that of a Harpy eagle) is known from the Iatmul area (see Meyer, 1995, fig. 416, p. 382). Ex coll. : Gal. Meyer, Paris ; Dr. & Mme. Capier, France.