Headdress portion of a Yam mask from the Abelam people, Middle Sepik River region. Early to mid 20th century.
The Abelam males gain prestige by growing and exchanging Yams. By continually giving longer and longer yams, the giver gains prestige as well his Yam partner. There is a lavish presentation ceremony where costumes and masked dancers who become the embodiment of the giant yams. When worn, the wearer is the Yam and therefore these are never worn by "humans" .