Pre-contact Yuat River Mask-New Guinea Art-Oceanic Art One of the main diagnostics I tell my clients about determining if a New Guinea object is pre-contact or not is the total absence of straight lines and sharp edges. There is a smooth, flowing sense to the carving that is hard to find on pieces made with the sharp, crisp edge of steel. The stone, bone and shell edges of pre-contact tools leave less sharp and precise lines. The edges produced by stone adzes seem more crushed than cut. With this ancient mask from the Yuat River you can get this sense--rounded volumes, soft edges, compelling expression, lack of surface decoration. Notice the large pierced septum, the nostril hole, the remains of bold blue pigments and what is hard to see is the red in the mouth. The numerous holes around the perimeter are old, pre-contact constructed. The back is beautiful and roughhewn as one would hope. The piece comes from a Maryland private collection, dates to the late 19th century, is 18 7/8” (47.8 cm) in height and the price is $8500.