Alaska Native Collections – Sharing Knowledge

 
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Mask

ameelg “mask”
Language: Tsimshian

If you could call any mask classical Tsimshian, this one has all the features…these cheekbones, the way the nose is sculpted, the narrow lips, and the way the eyes look down and slightly to the sides. When you dance you’re turning from side to side, and that helps you to see where you are going.

—David Boxley, 2009

Masks were among the most important objects representing a chief’s halaayt (spirit powers). Each portrayed a different guardian spirit in bird, animal, or human form, and each had a unique name and song. Nisga’a artist Norman Tait commented that this example was probably from a Skeena River village and that the black band across the eyes confirmed that it was used for dancing. He thought it was well carved but probably quickly made for a winter ceremony.

Culture: Tsimshian
Region: Probably Skeena River, British Columbia, Canada
Object Category: Ceremony
Dimensions: Length 22.5cm
Accession Date: 1912
Source: John G. Brady (collector)
Museum: National Museum of Natural History
Museum ID Number: E274242