Alaska Native Collections – Sharing Knowledge

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kiinauq “mask”
Language: Qawiaraq Iñupiaq

Adult men and young men would wear women’s clothing. Wearing masks to hide their faces, they donned women’s clothing.

—Frank Ellanna, from “Ugiuvangmiut Quliapyuit, King Island Tales,” 1988

During winter ceremonies on King Island, both men and women put on clothing and masks to represent the opposite sex. This mask from Norton Sound represents a woman’s face, with peg teeth and traditional chin tattoos. Masks were featured in many winter hunting festivals and at Kivgiq, the Messenger Feast, when people from different villages came together to dance, exchange gifts, and compete in athletic contests.

Culture: Iñupiaq
Region: Norton Sound, Alaska
Village: St. Michael
Object Category: Ceremony
Dimensions: Length 24.5cm
Accession Date: 1876
Source: Lucien M. Turner (donor)
Museum: National Museum of Natural History
Museum ID Number: E024327