Like us on Facebook
Follow us on Instagram
 

Fascinating collection of ceremonial masks carved by indigenous people

Ian Smith

The use of masks in rituals or ceremonies is a very ancient human practice across the world, although masks can also be worn for protection, in hunting, in sports, in feasts, or in wars – or simply used as ornamentation; some ceremonial or decorative masks were not designed to be worn. Although the religious use of masks has waned, masks are used sometimes in drama, therapy or psychotherapy.

Northwest Coastal indigenous groups were generally highly skilled woodworkers. Their masks were often master-pieces of carving, sometimes with movable jaws, or a mask within a mask, and parts moved by pulling cords. The carving of masks was an important feature of wood craft, along with many other features that often combined the utilitarian with the symbolic, such as shields,canoes, poles, and houses.

 

 

All photos by: Thomas Quine/Flickr

Hanging in a Berlin museum and looking like a true Berliner

Hanging in a Berlin museum and looking like a true Berliner

 

Nootka sun mask

Nootka sun mask

 

Mask

Mask

 

Nootka mask

Nootka mask

Woodland tribes, especially in the North-East and around the Great Lakes, cross-fertilized culturally with one another. The Iroquois made spectacular wooden ‘false face’ masks, used in healing ceremonies and carved from living trees. These masks appear in a great variety of shapes, depending on their precise function.

Nootka art

Nootka art

 

Masks from Nootka tribe. quinet

Masks from Nootka tribe. quinet

 

Mask from aboriginal peoples of British Columbia, looking curiously Greek - Berlin 2010

Mask from aboriginal peoples of British Columbia, looking curiously Greek – Berlin 2010

Taken at the Ethnological Museum, Berlin 2010

Taken at the Ethnological Museum, Berlin 2010

First Nations mask

Giant mask

Giant mask

 Straw mask North American first nations art at the Ethnological Museum - Berlin 2010

Straw mask North American first nations art at the Ethnological Museum – Berlin 2010

Taken at the Ethnological Museum, Berlin 2010

Taken at the Ethnological Museum, Berlin 2010

 Northwest native masks Masks are a specialty of the aboriginal peoples of the northwest coast of North America - Berlin 2010

Northwest native masks Masks are a specialty of the aboriginal peoples of the northwest coast of North America – Berlin 2010

Sun mask At the Ethnological Museum in Berlin 2010

Sun mask At the Ethnological Museum in Berlin 2010

Northwest Native mask Taken at the Ethnological Museum in Berlin 2010

Northwest Native mask Taken at the Ethnological Museum in Berlin 2010

Unusual human mask from natives of British Columbia - Berlin 2010

Unusual human mask from natives of British Columbia – Berlin 2010

Pueblo craftsmen produced impressive work for masked religious ritual, especially the Hopi and Zuni. The kachinas, god/spirits, frequently take the form of highly distinctive and elaborate masks that are used in ritual dances. These are usually made of leather with appendages of fur, feathers or leaves. Some cover the face, some the whole head and are often highly abstracted forms. Navajo masks appear to be inspired by the Pueblo prototypes