Our Artwork of the Week is a mask from the Solomon Islands which is a large group of islands in Oceania, east of Papua New Guinea, and northwest of Vanuatu. It’s really different than other masks I have seen, so I was curious to learn more.
The mask is worn like a helmet and is made from barkcloth stretched over a cane frame (Source: Met Museum).
Take a closer look and imagine what sort of person this mask is representing. What features do you notice, and what message do you think its maker was trying to send?
The Met Museum‘s website says they don’t know if this is from the islands of Nissan or Bougainville, so they don’t know exactly what this mask is representing. They do think that because of “the upraised ears, prominent brow ridge, wide staring eyes, and bared teeth” it could be representing the frightening spirit of Kokorra common on the island on Nissan.
Mask Lesson and Supplies
Masks are a perfect art lesson to explore other cultures. Compare this mask with masks from other cultures, and have students make there own. You can find more mask-making resources on this post about a mask from Papua New Guinea from my Art Around the World series last year.
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