Lenape Indian helmet mask?

SE Pennsylvania
SE Pennsylvania

Q:  My friend purchased this ceremonial Natvie American mask from someone in the same area where we live, Schuylkill County, PA. This is what we were told: it is a Native American ceremonial “good luck” mask named the Black Eagle, probably just because of the large nose. It was said to be 100-150 years old. It was thought to be Lenape  Indian in style. Someone else told us he thought it was Seminole.  It is a lighter density wood, 13 1/2 ” high by 12″ across. It weighs only 5 1/2 pounds and is life sized to go on someone’s head. There are good luck rolling logs on either cheek. It is stained black. I don’t see any maker’s marks. I put it up on Facebook on a site for help and pretty much got trashed.  The woodwork on the inside doesn’t look old but again, I’m kinda clueless.  Marc, 862

A:  The Lenape are from the SE Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware area, but I have never seen photos of masks from that culture. (We get to see a lot of Cherokee and Iroquois masks.) So I have no idea what I am looking at here. Also, we must discard the idea that it might be Seminole, a tribe that has never practiced masquerade. The mask appears to be relatively new and made for sale rather that usage. There are no eye holes. It would be great if someone would tell us about Lenape masks, if in fact there is such a tradition.


  • Pete Winders

    Lenape = ‘Delaware’ and you might be able to find some pictures of old Delaware masks. The ones I have seen pictured are more like Cherokee masks in being more natural than, say, Iroquois masks. They are still quite distinguishable from Cherokee.

    Agree w Michael that this is African.

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