Torres Strait Islander people / Mask / 19th CenturyTorres Strait Islander people
19th Century

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Creator Nationality: Asian; Pacific; Melanesian; New Guinean; Papuan
Creator Name-CRT: Torres Strait Islander people
Title: Mask
View: Full View
Creation Start Date: 1800
Creation End Date: 1899
Creation Date: 19th Century
Creation Place: Torres Strait
Object Type: Sculpture
Materials and Techniques: Turtle and clamshell, wood, feathers, resin, seeds, paint, fiber
Dimensions: W. 25 in. (63.5 cm)
AMICA Contributor: The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Owner Location: New York, New York, USA
ID Number: 1978.412.1510
Credit Line: The Michael C. Rockefeller Memorial Collection, Purchase, Nelson A. Rockefeller Gift, 1967

Intricate masks and figures made from plates of turtle-shell are unique to the peoples of the Torres Strait, which lies between Australia and New Guinea. Turtle-shell effigies were first recorded on the Torres Strait islands by the Spanish explorer Diego de Prado in 1606, a testimony to the antiquity of the tradition. Used primarily during male initiation and at funerary rituals, the masks represent mythical culture heroes and their associated totemic species. Some masks represent human forms, others depict birds, fish, or reptiles, and masks such as this one combine the features of both humans and animals.

AMICA ID: MMA_.1978.412.1510
AMICA Library Year: 2000
Media Metadata Rights: Copyright The Metropolitan Museum of Art

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