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Artist's cultural association:
Tomman Island
Botnavis 1973 Place made: Tomman Island, Malampa Province, Vanuatu Melanesia
Materials & Technique: sculptures, clay, tree fern, fibrous wood, ochre, boar tusks

Dimensions: 51.0 h x 45.0 w x 43.0 d cm
Acknowledgement: Purchased by J-M Charpentier on behalf of the CAAB
Accession No: NGA 71.207.7

Festooned with eight faces—all with pig tusks jutting from their mouths, suggesting the visages of supernatural beings—this type of heavy mask is worn over the top of the wearer’s head (‘Bot’ meaning head) during Nalawan-related ritual dances. The right to gain the authority to create such an important mask can be purchased with five pigs. During the Nalawan performance, this mask’s faces represent many representations of bad spirits. At this event, both a small pig and a prized tusked pig are killed with a special spear kept in the men’s club house.

Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra 2013

From: Crispin Howarth Kastom: Art of Vanuatu National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, 2013