• 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…

  • Native America

    Inuit small stone mask

    Q:  I purchased this small mask carved in some type of marbled stone at an antique market in Pickering, Ontario, Canada. It is about 5-1/2″ X 3-1/2″. I paid $85.00 for it. I have no idea whether there is any real value to the piece. I have been collecting interesting masks over the years and I just could not resist this one. Curious to know if you might know thew cultural origin…and if in fact there is any value?  Mo, 914 A:  A lot of small stone sculptures are made by the Inuit of Alaska. Perhaps some of the First Nations people of northern Canada do the same. The question…

  • Native America

    Could be colder in Alaska

    The wind chill here in Lancaster, PA will go below 0 degrees Fahrenheit tomorrow. Made me think of a mask on page 92 of our new book, Masks of the World. It’s a shaman mask made by the Inuit people of Simon Paneak, Alaska. It is constructed of natural materials, mostly from caribou. Though it may or may not have some ethnographic basis, they have always been made by the Inuit for trade with visitors.

  • Native America

    NWC Indian mask

    Q:  I just picked up a bunch of native Canadian masks which is an area I know nothing about, but I instantly fell in love with them. I have identified each of them the best I could by using your book.  I have uploaded my favorite one. All have been signed by a wolf cane and dated from 1971-74.  Dan, 904 A:  We usually refer to masks from the Indian tribes that populate coastal Washington, British Columbia, and lower Alaska as Northwest Coast, or NWC. I think this one was made by a hobbyist, or for tourists and collectors. It would be helpful to find out who the carver was. …

  • Native America,  Protection

    Eskimo sun glasses

    Q:  These antique whale bone/scrimshaw goggles came from the Aleutian Islands near Alaska.  Would you have any idea the approximate age of these goggles?  How valuable would these be?  PJ, 873 A:  Indigenous people in the extreme Northern parts of the world have always carved goggles out of wood or bone with thin slits for eye holes. 

  • Native America

    Koskimo wearing a Hami mask

    A reader sent in this great picture of a Koskimo character wearing a full-body fur garment, oversize gloves and mask of Hami (‘dangerous thing’) during the Numhlim ceremony.This guy is a Kwakiutl Indian from somewhere in British Columbia. The photo was taken by Edward Curtis in 1914. Ceremonies and meetings of Northwest Coast Indians could be quite dramatic.

  • Native America

    A pair of mystery masks

    Q: We ended up with two masks we could not identify. Could you help us out please. Thanks so much, Norb (Visitors should know that Norb is constantly visiting estate auctions where he always wins the best items for a reasonable price. You can visit his store at www.estateauctionsinc.com 830 A: I can’t remember ever seeing masks like these two. Obviously, they are from the same culture and time period. I suspect they were used in culture, perhaps a long time ago. If I had to make a guess, I’d say they’re both from Alaska. If that turns out to be true, they would be of great interest to serious…