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Yupik Yup'ik Native American Alaska Polychrome Wood Anthropomorphic Spirit Mask

About the Item

A beautiful, somewhat benevolent mask by the Yup'ik (Yupik) aboriginal, indigenous people of South-Western & South Central Alaska. The Yup'ik people, who are related to the Inuit peoples, have a long history of ceremonial mask making. Yup'ik masks were originally and specifically designed by Shamans and made to be worn by these spiritual leaders in Winter tribal dances and sacred ceremonies. Traditionally, the masks were destroyed or discarded after use in these ceremonies. Very few of these masks survived. After Christian contact in the late 19th century, masked dancing was suppressed and the tradition all but died out. As more outsiders settled in Alaska at the turn of the century, masks were made by the Yup'ik people to sell or trade for necessary goods. It is likely that this mask was created some years later for this purpose. In the 20th century, Yup'ik mask had a profound influence on many renowned surrealist artists including, Max Ernst, Joan Miro, Leonora Carrington, Victor Brauner, and most notably Andre Breton who was an avid collector of Yup'ik masks. This fantastic anthropomorphic mask is carved of lighter wood and hand painted/ decorated with pigment. The mask seems to represent some sort of smiling, benevolent spirit or character. The mask is from a French collection. We were told that this mask, as well as others in the collection we have listed, was acquired originally in the 1950s-1960s in Alaska and the Yukon territory in Canada but as we have no way to verify or authenticate this. Please note we are listing the masks as decorative and not as actual tribal artifacts. We are not experts in this area and do not know for sure their actual age and are therefore listing as 20th century. Would be a very eye-catching piece virtually in any setting. Rare and spectacular overall. Dimensions: 11.5" high, 13.5" wide, 1.5" deep.
  • Dimensions:
    Height: 11.5 in (29.21 cm)Width: 13.5 in (34.29 cm)Depth: 1.5 in (3.81 cm)
  • Materials and Techniques:
  • Place of Origin:
  • Period:
  • Date of Manufacture:
    Mid-Late 20th Century
  • Condition:
    Wear consistent with age and use. In very good vintage condition with natural wear consistent with age and use (please see photos). Very engaging overall.
  • Seller Location:
    Studio City, CA
  • Reference Number:
    1stDibs: LU2254320105762
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