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Seattle Art Museum (SAM)

Wan-rulugu (hornbill) mask

Wan-rulugu (hornbill) mask

Masks keep direct lines of communication open between families and the totemic animal that shares their life force. This family's hornbill mask captures just the moment when a bird's wings are spread skyward to lift off.

Wood, pigment
29 x 17 1/2 x 8 in. (73.7 x 44.5 x 20.3 cm)
Gift of Katherine White and the Boeing Company
Provenance: [J. J. Klejman Gallery, New York]; purchased from gallery by Katherine White (1929-1980), Seattle, Washington, 1963; bequeathed to Seattle Art Museum, Seattle, Washington, 1981
Now on view at the Seattle Art Museum


Exhibition HistoryCleveland, Ohio, Cleveland Museum of Art, African Tribal Images: The Katherine White Reswick Collection, July 10 - Sept. 1, 1968 (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, University of Pennsylvania Museum, Oct. 10 - Dec. 1, 1968). Text by William Fagg. Cat. no. 39 (as Mask with Bird).

Flint, Michigan, Flint Institute of Arts, The Art of Black Africa, Feb. 8 - Apr. 5, 1970.

Los Angeles, California, Frederick S. Wight Art Gallery, University of California, African Art in Motion: Icon and Act, Jan. 20 - Mar. 17, 1974 (Washington, D.C., National Gallery of Art, May 5 - Sept. 22, 1974). Text by Robert Farris Thompson. No cat. no., p. 106, reproduced pl. 144 (as mask).
Published ReferencesRoy, Christopher D. "Mossi." Milan: 5 Continents Editions, 2015; reproduced pl. 22, p. 116.

Seattle Art Museum respectfully acknowledges that we are on Indigenous land, the traditional territories of the Coast Salish people. We honor our ongoing connection to these communities past, present, and future.

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