College of Communications and Fine Arts Art Museum of the University of Memphis
Yam Mask (20th century) Abelam People, Sepik River Region, Papau New Guinea Woven plant fiber and pigment Gift of Martha and Robert Fogelman 2008.2.166



The yam (a tuber similar to the sweet potato) is the staple of the Abelam diet and important to their daily life and survival. Village men wear yam masks at festivals when yams are planted and before the crop is harvested. During the ceremonies, the Abelam ask their ancestor spirits to provide an abundant crop of yams to each village.

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Last Updated: 11/30/12