Oceanic art history is very rich with a foundation of complex mythological and cosmogonic systems. Religion and ritual strongly influence every aspect of Oceanic life, and their association with the arts is especially close. Religious symbolism infuses not only the objects, dances, and speeches used in ritual but also the materials and tools used to create them. This gallery represents one of the many parts of the Oceanic culture that sets it apart from other world cultures. The gallery focuses on Oceanic ritual objects, specifically the masks that are used in the rituals. Masks from different oceanic rituals and functions are shown. What they are made of show that they only use materials in their environment to make them and since primary art form of Oceania is wooden sculpture, most of these masks are made from wood. Organic material like human hair, leaves, and some paint are added. The most prolific regions to find these masks are Melanesia and Polynesia; interestingly, masks are common in the former region, but rare in the latter. Many Oceanic cultures in Melanesia use most times of the year to honor spirits or ancestors. The masks are one of the main ritual objects that might be used to represent the features of the deceased, both to honor them and to establish a relationship through the mask with the spirit world. Sometimes they were used to force the spirit of the newly dead to depart for the spirit world. Masks were also made to protect the deceased by frightening away malevolent spirits. The eight objects represented in this collection are Malagan Mask (19th century), Malagan figures (mid-20th century) from New Ireland, Papua New Guinea, Wooden mask (1800 - 1899), Lor mask (B7231) (Purchased in 1885) from Australian Museum, Baining mendaska mask (E75755) (Purchased in 1978) by Australian Museum, Death Mask (1853) from British Museum, and the Tago mask (E1904) (Purchased in 1888) from Australian Museum. References. "Arts of Oceania." Arts of Oceania. Roxanne Farrar, n.d. Web. 28 Apr. 2016. <http: / /www.slideshare.net /roxannefarrar /arts-of-oceania-60831065>.
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