Alaska Native Collections – Sharing Knowledge

Related Media
Related Objects


kiinauq “mask”
Language: Bering Strait Iñupiaq

And the singers, they start singing and he kept up with the beat. Pretty soon the singers start going – beat getting faster and faster, see, and he kept up. When they started getting fast, before you know it, that old man bounced from that floor… and he was up with those gloves on and he started dancing.

—Jacob Ahwinona, 2001

A man’s face is depicted on this 19th century King Island mask, part of a set of three that were probably used together in a single performance. King Island dancers dressed in masks and special regalia for the Walrus Dance, Wolf Dance, Polar Bear Dance, and other performances held in the qargi, or ceremonial house. Many are still performed, each tied to a traditional story of its origin.

Culture: Iñupiaq
Region: King Island, Alaska
Object Category: Ceremony
Dimensions: Length 30cm
Accession Date: 1882
Source: E. W. Nelson (collector)
Museum: National Museum of Natural History
Museum ID Number: E064226