Totemic Masks of the Sepik

Sepik TotemsThe Rotella Gallery has created a spectacular new print featuring five traditional masks I photographed while filming for a new Australian television special.

The people of the Sepik River produce some of the most extraordinary totemic carvings and paintings in the world. These are the material symbols of a highly developed religious world of ideas. Paramount to these ideas is their relationship to their environment.  Perhaps the most dramatic totem or symbol is the crocodile, which rose from the floodwaters to create land, then disappeared back into the flood.  This is a reptilian lord of life on land and water, whose spirit remains protective and thus is carved on masks and shields, which are worn in clan celebrations.

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