Mask, ca. 1880. Cup'ig people, North America
Wood, feathers, sinew, fur, pigments, 16 x 20 x 3 1/4 in. (40.6 x 50.8 x 8.3 cm). Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, Bequest of Thomas G. Fowler, 2007.21.138
Kegginaqut, or masks, were used in dance ceremonies, both in thanksgiving and in supplication to the spirit and animal realms. Their visual referents were enticements to the animal world to help in humans’ survival. The central face is the spirit, or yua. The ellanguat are the rings around the yua and represent the layers of the universe or consciousness that the mask, and thus the dancer, looks through. This yua is a male face. The carved fish may represent a helping spirit, while the feathers may represent smoke emitted from lamps lighting the universe.
-- Chuna McIntyre (from YUA Spirit of the Arctic: Highlights from the Thomas G. Fowler Collection, 2020, pg 115
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