Yup’ik Eskimo mask

Lower Yukon, Alaska

Shamanic mask of a Tunghak spirit

Carved wood and pigments
Circa 1880
Height: 14 in. (35.5 cm)

Ex collection Joseph H. Wherry, author and Historical Museum director, circa 1960
Ex private collection, New York

Price: sold

America - Alaska
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The type of mask presented here is a representation of Tunghak or Tuunraq (« The Spirit from Elsewhere » / « The One Who Lives on the Moon » in the Yup'ik language). Tunghak is the being reigning over mammals and fish. Hunting and fishing expeditions can only be successful if the spirit agrees to make prey available to men. For this reason, it is important for the Yu'pik to win over the Tunghak spirit during shamanic ceremonies so that the latter will be favorable to their requests.
This mask is a representation of the fascinating shamanic voyage where the world of humans joins the invisible world of spirits. The concentric circles surrounding the mask illustrate the parallel worlds that the shaman is able to visit while in a trance.