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"We, ordinary people cannot truly understand the essence of the mask in the same way as the angalkuq [Shaman]"



"The masks were manufactured to be used in songs and dances, and most were destroyed after being used. Sometimes a group of masked dancers came on stage, but mostly it was a single dancer that focused all the attention. The appearance of the masks was changing while the dancers moved in the dimly lit space. The dancers were moving in front of the audience, but the mask changed the vision and experience of the dancers. Dancing behind the wooden barrier that was the mask narrowed the field of view of the dancer and in the same time gave him the space to express his spiritual vision. Some masks had the ability to contact the spirits that were represented. It is difficult to picture the unstable and changing nature of these performances of the past in the peaceful atmosphere, and carefully lighted display cases of museums *. "


Inuit masks and “masquettes” are an inexhaustible source of inspiration for me. It is not only their aesthetic but also all the mystery and magic that surrounds them.

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Masquette - Nunavik, 1927 - Edward S. photo Curtis
Davis wears a mask of a bird holding a fish in its beak. According to Curtis, they symbolized the spiritual powers of the animal represented and their owners were supposed to feel that spirit by wearing it.

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Couple of masks - Couple of masked dancers in action, Qissunaq in 1946 - photo Alfred Milotte

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Mask representing the moon - Kodiak Archipelago

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Demand of abundance - Masked Dancers dancing in Hooper Bay in 1946 - Alfred Milotte photo

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Ann Fienup-Riordan, Yup'ik masks: A living tradition