Native America

Old Inuit mask from Greenland

Q: Hello, Here are photos of our friend’s Inuit family mask. It was created in the early 1900’s, we are not sure exactly when. Our friend was Eskimo from Greenland and she left us all her family artifacts when she past away 10 years ago. The mask is wood from the center of a tree, you can see the circles. Diane, 1582

A: This is a major find for any first-rate art or anthropological museum. And it comes with family provenance. But please be careful. There are plenty of collectors and dealers who will try to cheat you out of a fair price if you don’t have a good idea of it’s worth. I suggest that you start by buying the following book and do some research.

The art of Greenland is just as old as the people themselves. From the oldest grave finds we find the incised face, some bird’s feet or an ornament. The dominant theme from there and up to our modern era is the human being and all its sorrows and joys. Human being, animal, nature. The Art of Greenland has both described these 5000 years’ art, and in the new section about contemporary art opened a few doors to the rest of the world and shown both tendencies as well as renewal. With this renewed and expanded third edition, the book is yet another important testimony to Greenlandic art. Bodil Kaalund has here given the Greenlanders their art history. A+


  • Chris

    What a great and beautiful piece 😀 …seems to be really a treasure. Worth of being in a good museum dedicated to Greenland and its people… so that people could see it. Maybe you could lend it to one as a kind of permanent loan, instead of selling it…?

  • Chris

    On Flickr, you will find a photo of Greenlandic masks from some museum exhibition, and there is a mask which is astonishingly similar to yours (although I think that yours is even better) – I ask myself if it might come even from the same carver? or is this maybe a determined style/type of character that must look like that, with those pointed ears and the two protrusions at the cheeks.

  • Bob Ibold

    Thank you, Chris, for your excellent comments. I’m especially pleased with the idea of an appropriate museum that can share it with the public.

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