• 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…

  • Native America

    Bird masks from different cultures

    A friend sent me the following story. The two images are of the sea hawk, an impressive predator from our north west coast. One was created by an Indian carver who lived there about 200 years ago, and the other was designed recently by a Seattle artist. Does this comparison suggest anything? It tells me that folk art is always evolving. What do you think? Seattle, WA– The mask that inspired the original Seahawks logo will be on display at the Burke Museum starting this Saturday. Historians trace it back to the Kwakwaka’wakw people of Vancouver Island.

  • Native America

    Authentic Tlingit ceremonial mask

    Q:  I purchased this mask from an online website that had it listed as an “antique unknown mask”. Upon first glance, I thought that the piece may be a newer Indonesian reproduction of a northwest coast mask, but after closer inspection, it appears that the mask has a considerable amount of age and wear consistent with use. I would just like to know whether this is an authentic Native American mask or not. Also, the shape of the eyes look similar to the almond shape that I see on Yupik masks, however the lip and brown form of the mask is consistent with northwest coast style.  Trent, 800 A:  You…