Inupiaq Mask

Archives | Alaska

Inupiaq Mask

Alaska

Inupiaq Culture
Ancient Eskimo

Carved wood, pigments
15th century
CIRAM test (C14): 1410-1446 (95.4% prob.)
H: 18.5 cm – 7 ¼ in.

Excavated near Shishmaref in 2003
Ex collection Joseph G. Gerena, New York
Ex private collection Paris

Published:
Masks: Transformation, Transmission & Trickery, Joseph G. Gerena Fine Art, 2007

Published: New Beginnings, 2017
Sold
In an exhibition that serves as a point of reference, The Far North at the National Gallery of Art in Washington in 1973, Edmund Carpenter described the Arctic region as the « Top of the World ». This fragment of an Inupiaq mask perfectly illustrates the aesthetic qualities of the archaic art of the extreme Far North.
The several centuries-old mask represents a naturalist portrait, its features (eyebrows, cheekbones, eyes) remarkably rendered. A magnetic presence emanates from this shamanic mask.
The holes situated along the bridge of the nose are – as far as we know – unique in the limited corpus of ancient Inupiaq masks. They suggest that an additional element was attached to the surface of the mask: a representation of a totemic animal, a shamanic reference? This only reinforces the aura of mystery surrounding this ancestral mask.

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