The Modern World During and After the World Wars, C. 1914–1960

Pacific Art

What is mana?

Mana is an important concept in much Pacific art that is essential for understanding the power of art in many Pacific cultures. Mana is a sacred, spiritual power possessed by individuals and art objects alike; it is invisible but formidable, and the amount of mana one has is related to one’s proximity to the gods. For example, a tribal chief and related nobles have mana because of their divine lineage. Mana can be gained or lost based on one’s actions or behaviors, such as through acts of strength or acts of cowardice, for example. The mana of a work of art is related to the status and skill of the artist who created the piece, as well as the materials use to make it, the age of the object, and the rituals for which it is used.


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