There once hung upon a wall a very large savage mask, or at least that is what the current master of the house referred to him as.
The mask had been bought at one of those places that specialises in selling anything remotely “vintage” without the slightest idea of its origins or value. So long as the item in question had a quirky quality sufficient to attract an idle person with adequate spare change to take it away, the object was always welcome in the shop and even more welcome when it had been exchanged for ready money.
“It is quite the ugliest thing you have ever bought.” Sighed the gentleman’s wife when he brought it home.
“I know! Isn’t it!” he replied, “but I thought it was so bizarre that I bought it.” And he hung it in a corner of the back room to scare the children.
The children however, proved more robust that he expected and only burst out laughing when they laid their eyes on it.
“Oh, it is hilarious dad!”
“Is that a rat sticking out of its head? And what is that coming out of its nose?”
“What possessed you dad? It is just plain horrible.”
Any visitors on seeing the mask, either laughed or shook their heads indulgently and said “it is just so you!”
The Gentleman was not disappointed by his friends’ or his children’s reaction. After all, it had cost practically nothing and the laughs had been cheaply bought.
But the mask, though keeping its countenance from the outside, quietly wept within.
For this mask had once adorned the door of the hut of a Papuan warrior. He had been fashioned from one solid plank of wood and carved with ancient symbols and patterns of the warrior’s tribe. The “rat” and the other spirit animal that adorned his forehead and nose held great meaning to the Warrior’s family and the tiny touches of red around his mouth and eyes had been applied with deliberate care and meaning.
This mask bore within, the spiritual dreams and symbols of a proud family, it represented the ancestors who looked over them from beyond and was, to the tribe, a thing of immense power and meaning.
One day the ancient rope, used to hang the mask on the Warrior’s door, woven by the tribespeople from native grasses, snapped, and the mask fell to the ground, startling the family’s labradoodle and knocking the gentleman’s favourite “Real Men Drink Coffee” mug onto the fake marble floor where it smashed.
A piece of the spirit animal also broke off.
“Never mind!” said the good-natured gentleman to the labradoodle. We have had enough laughs from it. I’ll put it out at the garage sale next weekend and someone else can enjoy it.