Mask / Plaques

Bear Mask. - Pacific Northwest - Mask / Plaques

Pacific Northwest

False Face Mask - Woodland - Mask / Plaques





Masks have been part of dance regalia and traditional ceremonies in many First nations groups since ancient times. The most renowned native mask-makers were the Northwest Coast Haida and Kwakiutl, who carved elaborate cedar dance masks. The most impressive of these are the transformation masks that at a pivotal point in the story to reveal a second face carved within the first one. Northwest Coast mask carving remains a vibrant part of contemporary native culture.


The Iroquois create sacred "false face" masks from wood and cornhusks. The masks are used in healing rituals which invoke the spirit of an old hunch-backed man. The False Face Society proper performs a ritual twice a year. The ceremony contains a telling of the False Face myth, an invocation to the spirits using tobacco, the main False Face ritual, and a doling out of mush at the end.


Masks are used for dances, cultural drama, decoration, and as crafts for sale.


The native masks often represented spirit creatures, animals and myths. When used in the Potlatch or other West Coast Native ceremonies, the dancers would take on the personification of the creatures that the masks represented and enter the supernatural world during the dance.