• Native America

    Cherokee booger mask

    Q:  I recently purchased this mask from a gallery in Rhode Island for $120, and was wondering if it hints as Native American and if so what tribe?  Aaron (not the collector), 1069 A:  This looks like a mask carved by Will West Long. He was born in the remote western North Carolina community of Big Cove.  For almost 30 years, Long served on Tribal Council, where he was instrumental in establishing the Cherokee Indian Fair, among other accomplishments.  A good wood carver and mask maker, Long died in 1947. The Booger Dance is a traditional dance of the Cherokee tribe, performed with ritual masks. It is performed at night…

  • Native America

    Mississippian bone gorget

    Q:  Of course this mask is Inuit and not Cherokee.  The fellow I’d mentioned previously, had gotten confused.  I’ve not seen one of these masks made with bone, like snow goggles.  My guess in age is the 1800’s?  Are the line markings on the back suggesting a spirit leaving, through the holes, to the spirit world?  I wonder what the markings around the eyes signify. It is 6 1/4″ high. What is your opinion?  PJ, 1065 A:  Gorgets are a Native American art form of polished, carved shell or bone pendants worn around the neck. The gorgets are frequently engraved, and are sometimes highlighted with pigments or pierced with openings.…

  • Native America

    Kwakiult mouse mask for Disney

    Q:  I also have a mask that an Indian tribe in Canada gave Walt Disney. It is really big and there is an engraved plaque stating that it was a gift to Walt.  It is mounted on wood.  Anne, 1051 A:  This could have a lot going for it. Well made NWC native American masks are a favorite of collectors. Ones depicting mice are rare. This particular one was presented to the creator of Mickey Mouse as a gift from the tribe. It could be worth a lot if the quality is good. I wish we had some better photos. Fortunately, you can read the label that was stuck to…

  • Native America

    Navajo Mystery Mask… or?

    Q:   I have a mystery mask for you.  A contact in Arizona is offering me this mask, claiming it is a Navajo mask from the mid-1800s.  The age seems very unlikely (late 1800s I suppose is possible), but in any case I’m confused about the type.  The only Navajo mask I know is the Yeibichai, and this doesn’t look like any Yeibichai I’ve ever seen, either in a live performance on a Diné reservation or in a collection.  Possibly it isn’t Navajo after all, but even so, I can’t place it.  Do you have any idea what it is?  Aaron, 1042 A:  This is a very strange mask. (Might remind…

  • Native America

    Carved wood Arctic mask

    Q:  My father recently passed who was an avid collector of Native American pottery, rugs and baskets.  These items currently are with Heritage Auction for a sale in November but we found these after those items left for sale.  We just want to know if they are “junk” or have real significant value.  I can try to get to them later today (in storage) for better imagery but I do know given my father’s contacts they are more than likely somewhat authentic.  Jackie, 1034 A:  You sent me six small pictures, of which this is a larger version of one. I think they are all Native American artifacts from the…

  • Native America

    Indian mask made of bone

    Q:  The mask came from an inheritance when my friend died at the Oakville reservation (Chehalis tribe), in Washington. It will be a trade of medicine. We never discussed monetary values… it was a part of her memories of a past pow wow. I am not sure it is even Chehalis or any northwest tribes because she did some travels when she was young. (Montana or southwest),  it is pelvic bone , the beads don’t look old and the grass is not brittle,  the paint looks new and I am not sure what the teeth are made of. I am looking for a quick sale because I need herbal remedies…

  • Native America,  Unknown

    Leather skull mask

    Q:  The one that looks like a skull is the one made from a hide.  The attached braids and beads are very brittle.  I know nothing about it.  My Dad passed away 10 years ago and it was tucked away in a trunk.  He loved Native American art and collected some pipes and other objects many years ago.  I’m guessing this was one of his finds.  I’d love to know the origin of it.  Mostly I’m concerned about the condition and would like to see it restored or preserved.  Marc, 991 A:  This mask is too much of a mystery for me. I hope one of our visitors will have…

  • Native America

    NWC Indian Raven Mask

    Q:  I have a handful more in storage that I can get at but it will take a bit of searching.  One in particular has real teeth that I think is just delightful.  Attached for now is the Canadian signed one.  I just now looked at my other photos and they are awful so will have to get the husband to do better for me.  Let me know what you think.  Melissa, 981 A:  The pic you sent is a tradition raven mask from one of the Indian cultures that inhabit the Northwest Pacific Coast of America and British Columbia. The wonderful folk art made by those various tribes for ceremony and…

  • Native America

    Iroquois corn husk mask

    There is a traditional society among many of the Iroquois tribes called the Husk Faces or Bushy Heads. Even today these woven masks are used in ceremonies. Of course, many are made just to sell to tourists. This one was purchased in Canada about 20 years ago, measures 17 inches top to bottom, and is especially well made. Real Native American masks are highly valued by collectors. This one can be seen on page 96 of Masks of the World by Ibold and Yohn.

  • Native America

    A mask from East Greenland

    Q:  I managed to get the Kalaallit Inuit mask for only $75 from someone who thought it was a “Witch Doctor Mask” from Africa instead of traditional art from Greenland.  Aaron, 922 A:  I found this on the internet.  “Not much is known about the role of masks in traditional Greenland societies and not many masks exist prior to the turn of the 20th century. The reason may lie in the mask’s strong personal link with its owner. Masks have often followed their owners to the grave or perhaps been destroyed by death. Another theory is that the mask’s power was so great that it had to be destroyed after…