Thursday, December 9, 2010

Why is there not many masks made anymore?

Before the start of the colonization period in the 19th century, indigenous people all over Alaska were very traditional in their lifestyles. The shamans were often ranked very high in their villages and were respected because they possessed a lot of power. While trying to colonize Alaskans, the missionaries had stopped all shamanic practices because they were thought of as demonic worshipping. That had meant that there were no more shamans that could practice what they had been for thousands of years. The art of making the masks has slowly been making its way into the traditional lifestyles of Alaskans and has been becoming more and more popular. The elders are still trying to get the young people involved and it's still a work in progress but with optimism and a group of hard working young adults should make it possible for future mask making.


These are the Aleut group of Alaska performing at the Alaska Native Heritage Center. This is just to show that different cultures in Alaska do have masks of their own masks and dances.
As you can see the men are using the masks and are telling a story with the song and dancing. It is always fun to see other peoples cultures and how they do somethings that are very similar to our own.

Agayuliyararput-Our Way Of Making Prayer

"During 1996, 1997 and 1998 an amazing exhibit of Southwestern Alaskan
culture and art toured the United States. Developed jointly by a team of native Yup’ik people, researchers and museum professionals, Agayuliyararput or “Our Way of Making Prayer” was the first exhibit to bring Yup’ik masks and ceremonial materials to a wide audience in their native context..."

Arctic Studies Center (2004), "Introduction"(Agayuliyararput-Our Way of Making Prayer ¶1).

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

How are masks made?

The Yup'ik masks were carved by men or women, but mainly were carved by the men. They were made during the winter because during the summer is when the wood was collected on the shores. Masks were carved and stained with clay from the earth. Decorations were also added that included teeth, beads, animal hides, feathers and possible other organic materials.
With the stories that the masks represented, it also meant a lot of different decorations. Masks could be as small as 3 inches long, or as heavy as 20 pounds and had to be held up by a handful of people.
The shamans were the ones that told the carvers how to make the masks. Although they were being told how to make it, they usually added their own imagination into it. Those types of carvers were chosen because they were known for making beautiful masks.

Traditional dancing in Emmonak

This is an example of how the ceremonies were during the winter time. The singers and drummers are in the back and
the dancers would be in front to show the shamans creation. Nowadays it isn't only the shamans that make the songs and
the dances, but that doesn't mean that it is a bad thing. People have made there own songs because the presence of shamans
is basically extinct, so we like to make our own.

Yuungnaqpiallerput By Ann Fienup-Riordan


This book gives the reader a history lesson on how the tools and objects were used in the Yup'ik culture. The elders are a big part of this book because they are the center of knowledge and they are the ones that you go to for any word of wisdom. The technology that was used in the past is very high-tech even if we don't think about it, and this book portrays the smartness of our people.