Alaska Native Collections – Sharing Knowledge

Related Objects


giyema “mask, mask ceremony”
Language: Deg Xinag

They name that mask Messenger, that’s telling the people to come.... Just like a bird, you know, flying ahead of the people to deliver the message.

—Phillip Arrow, 2004

The central face of this Deg Hit’an mask resembles Giyema (Mask Dance) messenger masks used at Anvik in the 1930s, and the overall shape with its tail and wings may represent a crow. The collector labeled the back “Te-yequ / water shadow.” Runners wore masks on their way to other villages to extend invitations to the Giyema ceremony. The festival was performed to increase the abundance of animals and to “put down” gifts that honored others. Dances and masks portrayed animals, birds, fish, and humanlike beings, such as One-Eyed Man, Jumping Men, the Half-Man, Up River People, and the Old Man.

Culture: Athabascan
Region: Yukon River (lower), Alaska
Village: Anvik
Object Category: Ceremony
Dimensions: Height 36cm
Accession Date: 1927
Source: Herbert W. Krieger (donor, collector)
Museum: National Museum of Natural History
Museum ID Number: E339824