An image of Baba or yau-baba (bell-shaped woven mask)

Abelam people

(Papua New Guinea  – )

Baba or yau-baba (bell-shaped woven mask)

Other titles:
Helmet mask, baba tagwa mask
Not on display
Further information

'Baba' masks form part of a full-body costume that is used during initiations. 'Yau-baba' masks are used in communal and private 'yam scenes' – displayed in the secret room of the yam-storage house together with 'urungwall figures' – to promote the growth of yams. They may also be shown together with shell rings in a private yam scene. A 'yau-baba' usually has its own name and is also linked to success in hunting pigs.

The pigments used on woven 'baba' or 'yau-baba' masks, 'urungwall' figures and 'bai' paintings are sourced from natural ochres and paints. Colours are believed to have magical properties if used with spells or mixed with certain ingredients.

Place of origin
Maprik District, East Sepik Province, Papua New Guinea
Cultural origin
Abelam people
mid 20th century
Ceremonial object
coil-woven plant fibre, rattan, grey, yellow, red and black pigments
45.7 cm height :
0 - Whole; 45.7 cm
Purchased 1965
Accession number
© Abelam people, under the endorsement of the Pacific Islands Museums Association's (PIMA) Code of Ethics