Wooden Mask


This wooden mask was taken from a shaman's grave-house near Yendestaqle, the Chilkat Village at the mouth of the Chilkat River, by Lt. T. Dix Bolles in 1883-85. He noted that were six gravehouses located on a narrow strip of land close to the river, four of which were almost in ruins. The mask came from one of the latter and was better preserved than other objects due to "a loose cedar board which protected it from the rain which leaked through in other places."

Bolles wrote, "The grave in which this mask was found was pointed out to me as being old, and that of a medicine man who had flourished more than two hundred years ago, six successors having filled this office; each one living to a good old age." Bolles served aboard the U.S.S. Pinta and was engaged in surveying the U.S.-English border. Bolles provides the following description of the mask: "The mask is skillfully carved from cedar wood and painted ... with strictly native colors. A coarse fringe of human hair partly rotted is inserted above the forehead. The wide gaping mouth is set with a double row of opercula, for teeth. It has for its eyes two large bronze Chines Temple coins, and the natural surmise is that they came from junk driven towards the coast."

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