Native America

From the far, far northwest

Inupiat of King Island, Alaska
Inupiat of King Island, Alaska

aaaMystrySolvd-627bQ: I have several King Island masks like this is one. The estate I got if from was of a man that was very well off and loved to fish for Coho. He was in his 90’s so I expect he got this mask many years ago.  I picked up a few Alaskan treats from the estate. I do not need a full appraisal but it would be great if you could tell me a $ range so I can note it in my insurance folder. This particular mask is 7.25 in high, 5 in wide and 3.75 in to tip of nose. The mouth is 2 in, the eyes 1.25 in. The wood is a soft wood, smells like a pine. Jim, 667

A: You are lucky to have this beautifully carved piece. I would guess your mask was made on King Island by an especially talented Inupiat carver about 50 or more years ago and sold later in Nome to an American visitor. The wear, insect damage and paint loss do not spoil the artistic impact of this piece, at least not to me. Because of the carving’s quality I have also posted the photo you sent of the back as well as the front view. Rarely do carvers go to this much effort!  A

Sorry, I only do appraisals for a fee.


  • Chris

    This is a beautiful and ethnographically interesting item, thank you for posting it. Dear Bob, I would like to encourage you to post also a picture of the back of at least all the masks you rate with an A, as I deem the back of any mask made for wearing to be part of its beauty and purpose – in other words, let us admire also their backs, not only their faces. Thank you.

  • Bob Ibold

    You make a good point. I will try to show the backs of masks when they are A+ (museum quality) or if I think it is especially relevant to understanding the piece.

  • Gary Ford

    Hi Jim, I would love to speak to you about this mask and the others you have.
    My email is threeoaksinc at

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