The masks shown are made by artists from Papua New Guinea, Australia and Japan. Each mask is designed to represent a special character or qualities.
- Artist Toby Cedar comes from the Torres Strait Islands. His mask Op Nor Beizam (Tiger shark mask), 2017, shows one of his totems, the tiger shark, which represents law and power. A totem is an animal assigned to a person, family or clan which each person has a duty to understand and protect. In the Torres Strait Islands, masks were traditionally worn while telling stories through songs, dancing and performance.
- The Alor mask, 1970s, made by the Tolai people of Papua New Guinea, is a stylised carved mask with a feather headdress. It was made to be worn by men during initiation ceremonies and cultural festivals. These masks are used to adorn special structural platforms and houses for special celebrations.
- The Noh mask, Ōbeshimi was made in Japan in the seventeenth century. Noh theatre is the oldest form of Japanese theatre and combines music, dance and acting. Ōbeshimi is used in plays featuring tengu, mythical demons or goblins which live deep in the mountains and have red faces, large noses, wings and supernatural powers.
Look at the related works and use the following discussion prompts to explore ideas with your class:
- When and why might the masks have been worn?
- What feeling does each mask evoke?
- What materials have been used in each one?
- What similarities and differences can you observe between the masks?