Monday, November 29, 2010

My Mask

Critical to the Yupik culture, the shaman’s masks were used in important events such as healing of the ill, winter festivals and connecting to the spirit world for various reasons. This shamans mask that I have chosen is from the mouth of the Yukon River, possibly near the village of Emmonak. The mask is from a community that possibly no longer exists and it is difficult to trace the origin of the mask nowadays because it was taken in the year 1878. Although, E. W. Nelson, who was in St. Michael at the time located north of the Yukon River, collected the shaman’s mask.Designed with a white, semi-human face, this mask has a mouth splattered with blood, wooden teeth, and two red attachments on each side. The right side contains two wooden legs, which are fastened with porcupine quills. This mask is a tuunraq, or an angalkuqs (shaman’s) helping spirit.  In more detail, a tuunraq can be called an ircenrraq, which is a powerful being in the form of a wolf, fox or a killer whale. The mask also looks like it can represent a crescent moon with the white dots representing the snow.

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