Native American Masks

Mask wearing has been a tradition since the time immemorial. And the Northwest coast Indians have been attributed for making the largest number of masks. Native American masks had many purposes: entertainment, spiritual and even medicinal. But nonetheless these colorful, artistic masks of the Native American tribes are one of the most fantastic artifacts.

How a mask was made?

The mask maker in a Native American society was generally a male of high status. Crafting a mask needed tremendous amount of concentration, and there were times when an artisan would go into seclusion to fully devote his mind and soul into making a mask. It was made generally from red cedar wood.

Artisans traditionally made tools for cutting, shaping and gouging. However, in the late 18th century Europeans brought in superior cutting tools, which enabled Native Americans to make masks in a much easier way. The paint used to decorate the masks was made from a mixture of charcoal or graphite, lignite, ochre and copper minerals. Feathers, hair, gold, straw, skin, or other materials were added to enhance the effects.

The different forms of masks

Native American Indians had three different kinds of masks. Single face, mechanical and the transformation masks. Single face mask is just a single piece of wood.  Mechanical masks were made up of strings and hinges. The transformation mask was the most complex, had upto three layers, which consequently made it heavy. Only a strong member wore this mask.

The Native Americans believed that anyone donning a specific animal mask was endowed with the power of that creature to some extent.

Function of the masks

Masks were not made just for decoration but had varied purposes. Some were labeled as portrait masks which resembled a specific person of the tribe. A labret (decorative plug) in the lower lip signified higher status. Masks were also made for secret society rituals and ceremonies. Well, secret societies here could have been a war society, a conjuring society or a society to bring in young people in the tribe.

Masks were also made for potlach ceremonies. Potlach ceremony is an event in which a chief of one tribe gives a gift to chief of another tribe.

Native American culture is now almost extinct but contemporary artists of the northwest coast origin have kept alive the tradition of crafting masks. They combine traditional artistry with modern touch. Native American Masks today adorn the walls of many art galleries.

Joseph Paige 2006

Native American
Native Americans
Native Americans 2
Native American Ancestry
Native American Art
Native American Art 2
Native American Art Gallery
Native American Artifacts
Native American Artists
Native American Beadwork
Native American Blankets
Native American Books
Native American Bracelets
Native American Ceramics
Native American Church
Native American Clothing
Native American Clothing 2
Native American Clothes
Native American Coins
Native American Crafts
Native American Culture
Native American DNA
Native American Dance
Native American Dance 2
Native American Dating
Native American Demographics
Native American Dolls
Native American Drawings
Native American Dream Catcher
Native American Drums
Native American Drums 2
Native American Earrings
Native American Figurines
Native American Films
Native American Flute
Native American Flute 2
Native American Food
Native American Food 2
Native American Games
Native American Genealogy
Native American Genetics
Native American Gifts
Native American Healing
Native American Headdress
Native American Heritage Month
Native American History
Native American Indian Jewelry
Native American Indians
Native American Indians 2
Native American Jewellery
Native American Jewelry
Native American Jewelry 2
Native American Law
Native American Life
Native American Market
Native American Masks
Native American Medicine
Native American Medicine Wheel
Native American Moccasins
Native American Money
Native American Month
Native American Music
Native American Music 2
Native American Names
Native American Navajo
Native American Necklace
Native American Paintings
Native American Peace Pipe
Native American Poetry
Native American Poetry 2
Native American Portraits
Native American Pottery
Native American Pottery 2
Native American Pow Wow
Native American Pow Wow 2
Native American Products
Native American Rattles
Native American Recipes
Native American Religion
Native American Rights
Native American Rings
Native American Rugs
Native American Sand Painting
Native American Sculptures
Native American Spears
Native American Spirituality
Native American Stories
Native American Tomahawks
Native American Totem Pole
Native American Totem Poles
Native American Tattoos
Native American Tattoos 2
Native American Tattoos 3
Native American Tribe
Native American Tribes
Native American Tribes 2
Native American Tribes 3
Native American Videos
Native American Wolf
Native American Words
Native American Women
Northwest Native American Art