H: 14 cm (5.5”), 18 cm (7.1”)
Estimated age: End of the 19th century or early 20th century
Provenance: Formerly part of the Koppens Collection, the Roberto Gamba Collection, Austrian private collection
Estimate: € 7.000 – 10.000
Indonesia, West Kalimantan
The Ibans or Sea Dayaks are a branch of the Dayak peoples of Kalimantan. The Ibans were renowned for practicing headhunting and tribal/territorial expansion, and had a fearsome reputation as a strong and successful warring tribe in the past. In former times, the Dayak were feared for their ancient headhunting tradition. Among the Iban Dayaks, headhunting was believed to have originated from fulfilling one of the mourning rules given by a spirit.
A pair (male and female) of very nicely carved Iban Dayak masks from the West Kalimantan region bordering the Malaysian part of Borneo. These types of naturalistic masks are called “soul masks.”
Soft wood with white and red color pigments. Both masks have a slightly ghostly expression, big noses, and big ears. The female mask has a more rounded shape and chin, and thin lips painted red. The male mask is a bit longer and looks slightly more serious than the female mask. Great expression of faces, deserving of the name “soul mask.”