Taiwan's National Palace Musuem unveils world mask exhibition at Chiayi branch

Special selection of traditional masks from different cultures on display

Yves Le Fur from Quai Branly Museum (left), NPM Director Wu Mi-cha. (NPM photo)

Yves Le Fur from Quai Branly Museum (left), NPM Director Wu Mi-cha. (NPM photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — A new exhibition in Chiayi showcasing exquisitely made masks from four continents explores the diverse traditions and cultures of various societies.

The National Palace Museum (NPM) has teamed up with France’s Quai Branly Museum for the exhibition “Mask — Beauty of the Spirits: Masterpieces from the Musée du quai Branly - Jacques Chirac,” which opened Friday (Nov. 15) at the NPM’s southern branch and will last through March 2020. The exhibition presents a special selection of masks that range from ancient to relatively recent times — a testimony to societies and customs across the world.

The exhibition provides visitors with “the opportunity to explore the diverse materials and functions of these masks,” said the NPM. It added that in addition to form and artistry, the masks often have religious and spiritual meaning for those who created them.

Planned and curated by Yves Le Fur, director of Heritage and Collections at the Quai Branly Museum, the exhibition showcases 100 masks that the French museum has collected from Africa, Asia, America, and Oceania. It is the first time for the exhibition to be held in Taiwan since embarking on an international tour in 2008.

The exhibits include the “Ogbodo enyi” mask from a Nigerian village. The 25-kilogram mask, which features a human face mixed with animal features and topped by an elephant trunk, is brought out during the dry season or whenever there is a funeral.

▶︎ The Ogbodo enyi mask (Source: NPM)

The Yam Mask made in Papua New Guinea celebrates the staple food of the Abelam people of the Sepik River region. Large yams are often used to create masks, which are adorned with feathers, shells, and brightly-colored fruit.

▶︎ The Yam Mask (Source: NPM)

Apart from the exhibition, the museum will also organize a series of child-friendly activities. These include mask-making workshops and traditional performances with masks.