Smith & Singer

A Ceremonial Mask

A Ceremonial Mask

Estimate $5,000 – $8,000


  • Lot Sold $5,000 (Hammer Price)
  • $6,000 (Hammer Price with Buyer's Premium)

boars tusks, dogs teeth, mud, stones, spider web, straw and cane

Collected in the village of Lembinwin, South West Bay, Malakula in the late 1970
Private collection

Gardissat notes advise that this sculpture is called  "'The Two Mansip Brothers', and that according to tradition, the civilizing hero of the southern part of the island of Malakula is Ambat. He was one of 11 brothers of which the two known as Mansip were twins.
This is a mask of the type known as 'heavy', that is to say that it is not a mask worn on the head but instead is placed beside the nasara (dancing ground.)
The mask is used in the ceremonies known as Naluan, principally during circumcision rites. These festivals are very important to the tribes known as the Small Nambas, and feature a pantheon of personages and animals, all linked together through traditional stories. This type of mask is utilized by the Small Nambas in the same way as the hand-held marionettes that are also a feature of Small Namba culture - as in a puppet theatre, one person manipulates the mask while the other recites the accompanying story.
The Mansip brothers also play an important role alongside the Nevimbumbao (see lot 2). In all the kastom stories of this area of South West Malakula, the principal personage is Ambat, and one often finds among the others the ogress Nevimbumbao and the Mansip brothers.
The mask was purchased in 1968 in the area of Lawa, South West Malakula but normally the mask is from Tomman island (off the south western tip of Malakula). According to tradition this is where the world was created.
Just as the Small Nambas are slowly disappearing, so is this type of mask also disappearing" (Paul Gardissat, personal correspondence).

Aboriginal and Oceanic Art

OCEANICART  |  26 Jul 2010  | 
2:30 PM

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