Pacific North West Coast American Masks

Written by Ian Bracegirdle

Continued from page 1

The masks andrepparttar tribes

Throughoutrepparttar 116077 regionrepparttar 116078 most notable common denominator inrepparttar 116079 type of masks isrepparttar 116080 portrait mask produced in differing degrees of conformity torepparttar 116081 human features. Portrait Masks Fromrepparttar 116082 Northwest Coast of America by J.C.H. King is a detailed study of these and is well worth reading.


The Coastal Tinglit live in Alaska rather than Canada butrepparttar 116083 influence spreads torepparttar 116084 Tahtlan tribes inrepparttar 116085 south. Shaman masks representrepparttar 116086 finest work from this area. Potlatches celebratingrepparttar 116087 memory of dead ancestors, were danced by men and women wearing human face masks bearingrepparttar 116088 crests of clans and relatives. Women's masks also had labrets which according to size wererepparttar 116089 mark of rank. The numerous masks ofrepparttar 116090 shaman representedrepparttar 116091 various levels ofrepparttar 116092 spirit world, sky spirits forrepparttar 116093 upper world, or dead warriors,repparttar 116094 sea or water spirits andrepparttar 116095 land spirits. Onrepparttar 116096 other handrepparttar 116097 chief wore masks that portrayed their ancestors.

Tlingit masks, as all masks of this area and African ones, combinedrepparttar 116098 aim of representing spirits and ancestors in forms that were recognisable to all tribal members.


The Haida lived onrepparttar 116099 island now known as Queen Charlotte Island. Ofrepparttar 116100 old masks that have been collected some are known to have been made for sale torepparttar 116101 sailors who visitedrepparttar 116102 islands. The human face masks were worn byrepparttar 116103 chiefs and others of rank during potlatches. Over fifty different crests have been noted and these decoratedrepparttar 116104 masks ofrepparttar 116105 chiefs. Crests represented animals, natural phenomena andrepparttar 116106 mythological past. The potlatches were given byrepparttar 116107 Village or house chiefs and were very well developed forms of feast involvingrepparttar 116108 provider in a huge outlay of goods and food.

The potlatch may have been given for several reasons including, commemorating an ancestor, tattooing a crest or cutting a lip for a labret. Dances similar to those performed byrepparttar 116109 Kwakiutl where a character possessed by a cannibal spirit ran amongstrepparttar 116110 guests biting them forrepparttar 116111 chief to rip up blankets to bandagerepparttar 116112 injuries in a show of apparent wealth.


Tsimshian sculptures were mainly crests,repparttar 116113 masks were of human form and often used to dramatise initiations. The workmanship is highly regarded for its quality. In parallel withrepparttar 116114 neighbouring Kwakiutl some ofrepparttar 116115 initiation ceremonies were very dramatic. The craftsmen were givenrepparttar 116116 tasks of making transformation masks and of engineering some elaborate deceptions.

Novices at initiation ceremonies would be taken through a process where they would disappear throughrepparttar 116117 roof having been captured by a spirit, ?spirited away?, and then to reappear with a magical device presented byrepparttar 116118 spirit. Even for a modern theatre technician this would be a considerable task. Mask-making virtually disappeared by 1940 after declining from about 1910. A revival was introduced with a training programme begun in 1970.


The best known Nootkan ritual wasrepparttar 116119 "tlonquana" which was a dramatic depiction ofrepparttar 116120 capture of initiates by wolves. The masks used depicted wolves, serpents and wild men. Whenrepparttar 116121 initiate had been seized byrepparttar 116122 wolf he would be given ancestral powers and rights. Through this meansrepparttar 116123 initiate would be given insight intorepparttar 116124 adult life and myths of their village and people. The dancing and ceremonies lasted for days. Another occasion on whichrepparttar 116125 masks were worn wasrepparttar 116126 announcement of a potlatch. Becauserepparttar 116127 ceremonies were so detailed they would be arranged up to two years in advance in order to assure there were no clashes.

During a minor feast a female and male masked figure would make a dramatic entrance to announcerepparttar 116128 coming event. The event would be compared to a feast given inrepparttar 116129 past andrepparttar 116130 chief would make a commitment to providing an even more elaborate affair.


The Kwakiutl are famed for their transformation masks. These massive masks, up to eight feet long, are based around an animal form and open up duringrepparttar 116131 ceremony to reveal an inner human character. This method linksrepparttar 116132 human, animal and spiritual aspects of life.

The winter period, called Tsetseka, meaning good humour, was used byrepparttar 116133 Kwakiutl as time for celebrating. They believed thatrepparttar 116134 spirits who had been at large inrepparttar 116135 world returned torepparttar 116136 village to capture certain members ofrepparttar 116137 population. The dances were often connected withrepparttar 116138 initiation of novices. Possessed by wild spiritsrepparttar 116139 novices would disappear intorepparttar 116140 woods to be givenrepparttar 116141 ancestral rites and then reappear as fully fledged members ofrepparttar 116142 society. The spirit which possessed them was Bakbakwalanooksiwae (Cannibal atrepparttar 116143 north end ofrepparttar 116144 World ) who inspired them to eat human flesh. There is no record of cannibalism having taken place, only of ritual enactment.

This period of dancing reached its climax asrepparttar 116145 initiates disappeared intorepparttar 116146 woods withrepparttar 116147 Hamasta dancers appearing atrepparttar 116148 potlatch in their fantastic masks. These portrayed a great bird monster who ate flesh andrepparttar 116149 Thunderbird which beat its wings and flashed its eyes. The dancers were supported byrepparttar 116150 Noohlmahl,repparttar 116151 fool, who, with a large running nose, provided flesh forrepparttar 116152 Hamasta. In addition he also keptrepparttar 116153 watchers in order.

A second ritual featuredrepparttar 116154 Warrior atrepparttar 116155 end ofrepparttar 116156 World, Winalagilis, who was supported by a series of other dancers. Some ofrepparttar 116157 effects were of a spectacular nature with one female helper, Toogwid, being killed by a wedge driven through her head. Real animal blood was released from bladders and seal eyes were made to fall fromrepparttar 116158 mask to increaserepparttar 116159 impact ofrepparttar 116160 event. Atrepparttar 116161 end ofrepparttar 116162 performance she was restored. Other rituals also involved elaborate killings and rebirths. The photographs of Edward Sheriff Curtis record some ofrepparttar 116163 costumes and masks of this area go to Edward Curtis Flurry and Co. to find out more and see some ofrepparttar 116164 pictures.

Also tryrepparttar 116165 Library of Congress.

If you are interested in this particular area may I recommendrepparttar 116166 following books

Mask arts of Mexico by Ruth Lechuga and Chloe Sayer Thames and Hudson ISBN 0 500 27797 4

Masksrepparttar 116167 Art of Expression Ed John Mack British Museum ISBN 0 7141 2530 x

© Ian Bracegirdle 2004 You may use this article freely on condition that you include this copyright line and URL and that people who subsequently use this article followrepparttar 116168 same conditions. Thank you for accepting these conditions.

Teacher Course Leader. Ian has for many years had an interest in masks. His inital interest is tribal masks and masking traditions. He also links current mask usage with our earlier ancestors.

Waxing Poetic: Encaustic Art

Written by Eileen Bergen

Continued from page 1

Electric hot plates, irons, heat lamps and even flame torches are used to fuserepparttar encaustic mixture torepparttar 116076 canvas and to allowrepparttar 116077 surface to be manipulated. Many artists maintain it takes up to two years of determined experimentation to getrepparttar 116078 process perfected. Itís not surprising that there are not many artists using encaustic techniques today.

Encaustic is a demanding organic medium which engagesrepparttar 116079 artist in a process of controlled accidents with unpredictable results that can be selectively enhanced.

It is a medium that provides a seductive skin that is unusually malleable and changeable. It can evoke sensations and emotions of transformation, religious ritual, history andrepparttar 116080 passage of time inrepparttar 116081 hands of an accomplished artist.

Encaustic is a truly introspective art form.

For examples of encaustic art, please visit http://www.theartful

By: Eileen Bergen The Artful Crafter

Ms Bergen has had avaried career, first as a special education teacher and the, after getting an MBA degree, as a vice president of a major insurance company. She has been making and selling crafts for the past 8 years.

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