This awan was collected by John Greenshields and gifted to the South Australian Museum. It is pictured here with Sophie Parker of ArtLab in Adelaide (Image: Alice Beale)
| Journal of the Oceanic Art Society
ADELAIDE - This large body-mask, called a tumbuan in Tok Pisin, comes from the Iatmul people of the Middle Sepik River in Papua New Guinea, and played an important role in traditional ritual life.
Initially it was thought to pertain to the naven ceremony of the Iatmul people, when pairs of mwai masks were attached to the backs of the tumbuans and groups of dancers performed each afternoon in front of the men’s house for several months.
Secret ritual names for a multitude of objects, plants and animals were passed down to the young men and a recitation of all the previous Iatmul generations was incantated to the audience.