1(right) JAGUAR MASK, Puebla, Mexico Enameled wood Art Museum purchase made possible by a Southern Arts Federation Grant 1984.004.025 The noble jaguar has been impersonated often in the pre-Columbian period and in modern times. This enameled mask is worn by a youth in a special dance in which the fearsome jaguar plagues the farm who must slay the jaguar in order to protect his field. He hunts the jaguar with the aid of a dog named Maravilla (Miracle).
(left) DANCE MASK, Ecuador 20th Century Papier-mâché and pigment Gift attributed to Burton Hunter 2003.001.009
2 DEATH MASK, Guerrero, Mexico Wood and pigment Art Museum purchase made possible by a Southern Arts Federation Grant 1984.004.026 This mask evokes ancient traditions of death representations that abound in the pre-Columbian period and survive in connection with the Day of the Dead holiday.
3 (right) HELMET MASK, Mende people, Sierra Leone Wood and pigment Art Museum purchase 2016.007.001 The smooth surface of this mask provides a dramatic contrast to the sharply carved braided hair and facial scarifications. Complex hair braiding is a mark of internal and external beauty among the Mende people.
(middle) MEDICINE HEAD, Sherbro people, Sierra Leone Wood and pigment Art Museum purchase 2016.007.003 This "medicine head" is a solid, miniature version of a bundu helmet mask. Sculptures such as this embody the spiritual power or "medicine" of bundu masks and the Sande Society.
(left) BUNDU HELMET MASK, Sherbro people, Sierra Leone Wood and pigment Art Museum purchase 2016.007.002 The bundu helmet mask was worn by an important female member during the initiation of girls into the Sande Society.
4 ABELAM YAM MASK, Sepik River Region, Papua New Guinea 20th Century Fiber and pigment Gift of Robert and Martha Fogelman 2008.002.166 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.
5 MASK, FIRE SPITTER, Korhogo people, Seunufo, Ivory Coast 20th Century Wood and pigment 1990.002.007