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Object: Mata kura (ceremonial mask)

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Title Mata kura (ceremonial mask)
Production Unknown (carver), 1800, New Zealand
Materials wood
Classification religious objects
Technique carving
Dimensions Overall: 310mm (Height) x 185.02mm (Width) x 111.95mm (Depth)
Credit line Oldman Collection. Gift of the New Zealand Government, 1992
Registration number OL000145

Thiscarved wooden mask depictsa naturalstic human head with awell carved the face and astrong masculine contour, pierced eyes,and mouth; and finished with a nearly complete full-facial moko (incised tattoo). The overall effect is dramatic and powerful.

The mask has a deep rich patina with red coloured accents. The reverseis hollowed and shaped as if it was made to be worn. However, it has been carved from a dense and heavy wood, whichmakes itimpracticalas a face mask. It also has pierced wooden lugs on the side that suggest it was originally affixed or fastened to a support or structure.

Its purpose remains unclear but it may have been made to represent an ancestral figure on an archistectural structure, used ceremonially, or possibly erected to signify an area restricted by tapu (sacred) or to mark a boundary between two tribal groups.

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