An amazing piece with several thousand pieces of shell inlay, each piece extremely small and finely cut.
This carving depicts a warrior from ancient times. The mask is not actually worn, but carved to embody the strength and nobility of the warrior.
To appear more fierce, the warriors wore their hair thick and puffed high, often with a band of cowry shell on their foreheads. They stretched their earlobes to enlarge their faces. They painted their faces with crushed lime before battle.
This mask has been carved from Solomon Island kerosene wood (cordia subcordata), and show the typical large eyes and mouth, and the looped earlobes. The headdress depicts a Nguzu Nguzu - a canoe prow figurehead holding a bird, indicating that the canoe comes in peace. The mother of pearl inlay represents the war paint.
For the mother of pearl inlay, the artist cuts a piece of shell to fit the space, then cuts it into tiny pieces, files each one to create the pattern, and then puts each individual piece in place using custom putty.
Marovo Lagoon, Solomon Islands
Personally collected Firebird Voyage
27"H x 12.5"W x 7"D