Shaman’s dual mask
Man-Seal inua spirit
St. Michael, Alaska
Carved wood, leather and pigments
Late 19th century
Height: 9 in. (23 cm )
Collected in Anvik, Alaska
Ex collection Heye Foundation, Museum of the American Indian, inventory # 5/941
Sold in 1944 to Julius Carlebach (1909-1964)
Ex Carlebach Gallery, New York
Ex collection Jeffrey R. Myers, New York
Ex collection Pinchas Mendelson, New York, acquired from the above in 2003
This intensely poetic yet powerful mask symbolizes the shamanic voyage and the physical/visual transformations it occurs.
The center of the mask is illuminated by a smiling face while the naturalistic representation of a seal head with open jaws conveys a sense of strength and mystery.
This type of representation associating symbols of both the animal and human world constitutes the very essence of Yup'ik beliefs and iconography.
This mask is a surrealist manifesto in itself!