Wayana-Aparai Mask – 20th Century Brazil – Ex Allan Stone Collection
Wax, modeled clay, palm fronds
Without stand: 67″ x 11″ x 7″
Provenance: Collection of Rosita Roden, Cary, North Carolina
Allan Stone Collection, New York (acquired from the above in May 1997)
The Wayana and Aparai peoples live in proximity in northeastern Brazil, on the border of Suriname and French Guiana in the Amazon basin. Among the cultural rituals they share is the Pono dance, sometimes called in Portuguese the Cumeeira ceremony, a celebration of the dedication of a new community roundhouse (the cumeeira being the highest point of the roof). The Pono dance placates Tamok, an evil spirit associated with illness and death, and purifies the village. It is performed with a large, two-handed whip to make loud cracking sounds and a mask of wax and modeled clay with palm frond mantles. The maskÂ’s geometrical pattern are reminiscent of the face painting applied to Wayana girls. Their pointed chins recall the pointed base of the central house post, which is thrust into the ground as the last stage in the roundhouse’s completion.
Second Face Museum of Cultural Masks, (www.maskmuseum.org)