Alaska Native Collections – Sharing Knowledge

 
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Mask

giyema “mask, mask ceremony”
Language: Deg Xinag

From what I hear there used to be lots of songs around those masks.... Those have strong songs, they say, medicine.... In the Stick Dance, they use all those masks around the kashim [ceremonial house]. They made animals, all kinds of animals, out of sticks.

—Phillip Arrow, 2004

This mask is similar to images of the Wild Man made in the Deg Hit’an region today. It has a spotted face, eyes with goggles, a rounded mouth, and earrings; the hair is caribou. A hanging ornament representing snot, now missing, would have dangled from the nose. The Wild Man appears during Giyema, the Mask Dance, and was formerly worn during the Stick Dance or Animals’ Ceremony. At the end of the Animals Ceremony carved sticks representing the souls of animals were placed in the river to release them back into the wild, ensuring that the animals would return to be hunted again. Alternatively, the mask can be identified as Cry Baby, a male Giyema spirit who wore earrings and female chin tattoos.

Culture: Athabascan
Region: Yukon River (lower), Alaska
Village: Anvik
Object Category: Ceremony
Dimensions: Length 61cm
Accession Date: 1927
Source: Herbert W. Krieger (donor, collector)
Museum: National Museum of Natural History
Museum ID Number: E339831