- Museum number
- Object: Kaygasiw Usul (Milky Way star constellation)
Mask made from fibre glass, polyester resin, ply and balsa wood, bamboo, beeswax, seed or nut, synthetic nylon rope (black and brown), pearl shell, bu shell, wooden beads, plastic beads, grass raffia, feathers (white; chicken and eagle, red and black; cassowary and peacock), cassowary feathers, enamel paints, wood stains (cedar and black), clear varnish and superglue.
- Production date
Height: 70 centimetres
Length: 250 centimetres
Width: 70 centimetres
- Curator's comments
- This mask is known as a Kaygas mask (shovel nose shark) and it was inspired by a mask in the British Museum's collection Oc,+.3278 which the artist says is his favourite out of all the ancient Torres Strait Island masks he has seen. Tipoti notes that this mask is associated with the Kaygasiw Usul (milky way star constellation) which is linked to the zugubal (spiritual ancestors): 'I am known as zugub (singular of zugubal) to my people'.
Tipoti comments (2014) that he uses fibreglass resin as not only is it a modern material but it has the transparent effect almost like the real turtle shell. The BU shell on the tip acknowledges the four winds of the Torres Strait Islander people (Naygay - northeast; Zey - southwest; Kuku - northwest; Sager - southeast). The small masks on top of the shark represent the ancient dancers (men only). The brown feathers along the tail fin of the shark represent the USUL - the murky trail of dust created along the shallow waters. The mask inside the mouth of the bottom mask represents the main dancer: he remains unidentified. The birds represent the Wawmer (frigate birds): as it circles high above waiting to join all the other birds out at sea when giant tunas and mackerels gather sardines.
Tipoiti has composed and choregraphed a specific dance to accompany this mask: 'star and lighting apparatuses and feathered TSI headdresses (Dhoeri) are used in this performance'. One dancer leads the performers out; he wears the shovel nose mask. He his followed by 3-4 dancers with headdresses and stars. Another two follow at the end with the lightning apparatus. The songs describe how the Milky Way was created in the beginning of time and the reasons for the movements of the constellation. The chants describe how zugubal travel down to earth from the spiritual world to the human world.
Tipoti inscribed the bottom of the crate that the mask travelled to London in:
Kapu Rangadhaw Laag
Signed Alick Tipoti 2015
- On display (G24/dc2)
- Acquisition date
- Africa, Oceania and the Americas
- Registration number