Native American, Alaska, Nunivak Island, ca. 1930s CE. A rare example of a mask made from dense whale bone, with almond-shaped shell inlays and teeth made from sharpened and polished bone or possibly shell. The face is smooth, with the eyes below gently projecting eyebrows, a flat, broad nose, and a small mouth with two long, pointed teeth extending from its upper palate. The top of the head has been drilled through, possibly for suspension. The natural features of the bone are nicely used along the sides to give it an openwork appearance. The porous texture of the bone and its grey-beige color contribute to the beauty of the mask. Size: 4.2" W x 6.25" H (10.7 cm x 15.9 cm); 8.55" H (21.7 cm) on included custom stand.
Nunivak Island is famous for its masks, which come in a wide variety or forms, made from a wide variety of materials, highlighting individual artistic imagination. Similar examples have attached feathers while others have multiple colors. Both men and women carved these masks, under direction from shamans ("angalkuq"). During the long darkness of winter, dancers used masks like this one to tell stories in communal ceremonial houses. Sadly, Christian missionaries in the late 19th and early 20th centuries suppressed masked dancing and the tradition has not returned.
Provenance: private Newport Beach, California, USA collection
All items legal to buy/sell under U.S. Statute covering cultural patrimony Code 2600, CHAPTER 14, and are guaranteed to be as described or your money back.
A Certificate of Authenticity will accompany all winning bids.
We ship worldwide and handle all shipping in-house for your convenience.
Rich, smooth patina on surface. A few small chips and nicks, notably from one eye.