North America

Inupiaq Eskimo mask

Alaska

Carved wood
19th century
Height: 9 in. (23 cm)

Ex private collection, New York

Price: on request

America - Alaska
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The Subarctic region inhabited by the Yup’ik Eskimo in Alaska is well supplied with land and sea resources allowing for much time that could be devoted to a full ceremonial life. After freezeup in the winter, performance cycles were undertaken that were important to maintaining proper human, animal and spirit-world interactions. These ritual and shamanic ceremonies took place in the Men’s House (qasaiq). During masked ceremonies, shamans, under the protection of their animal-guides entered into a trance to communicate with the spirit world.
Before leaving on a hunt, men also had to observe a certain number of dictates to assure themselves of the beneficial support of tutelary spirits, the « masters » of game animals.