• Native America

    3 masks from Greenland

    Masks of the World is the name of this website, so it behooves me to occasionally show masks from unusual locations. Let’s visit Greenland today. These photos were taken by Mary Payne at the Quai Branly Museum in Paris. It is famous for its important collection of ethnographic arts. Called Kiaapaatt masks, these three were collected in 1934 from somewhere in Greenland. I’m assuming the Kiaapaatt are an Inuit culture that immigrated from Canada after the 13th century. I’ve seen Inuit masks from Northern Canada that look slightly like these.  Bob, 1175  

  • Native America

    Iroquois False Face Mask

    Q:  This mask was given to my Father-in-law (who recently passed away) by a friend in Gallop, New Mexico, in the early 1960’s. We believe it is an Iroquois False Face mask, but there are no markings on the inside, so it might be a replica. What info can you provide?  Richard, 1123 A:  I think this is a well carved example of the bent-nose-and-mouth-style mask that would be hard to find these days. 55 years ago there were some talented Native American carvers that did good work like this, and they often didn’t sign them. I have written about similar Iroquois masks on the Mystery Mask blog before. Also,…

  • Native America

    Unidentified Eskimo mask

    Here is a mask I would like to know more about. In my book, Masks of the World, it is on page 94. The description reads: Unusual mask– Alaska or Canada, 6.7 inches, carved red cedar We saw a crude Tsimshian mask that was cylindrical in shape like this one, and had a long nose attached to the face, but was otherwise different. It also has an Inupiat or Yup’ik feeling. There are no string holes and the nose is nailed in place. The paint is aluminum so it is probably 20th century. And don’t be afraid to tell me if you think it is something completely different. I am…

  • Native America

    Iroquois False Face Society mask

    Q:  I recently purchased this false face mask off of eBay. My guess is that it is likely one that is just a collectible piece of art due to the numbering. I was unable to find out what this numbering meant anywhere. My guess is that its some kind of number the artist put on them. I’ve seen multiple masks of this type with the numbers on the sides. I was told it came from a collection of Native American artifacts called “The Seagram Collection.” To me it looks a bit different than most of the false face masks I have seen! I have just begun to collect masks and…

  • 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…