Alaska Native Collections – Sharing Knowledge

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kiinauq “mask”
Language: Bering Strait Iñupiaq

These might be used for Eskimo dancing.

—Marie Saclamana, 2001

This King Island mask represents a woman, her hair parted for braids. It was acquired with two male masks as a set, all probably made by the same artist and used together. Its meaning within King Island’s rich heritage of dance and ceremony has not been identified. For the “Competition Dance” men wore women’s clothing and masks to hide their faces, and women danced disguised as men; it seems possible that this mask was used for that purpose.

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: E064227