niijaang.uu (Mask)

About this object


This mask is worn in a photo titled “Indian Potlatch Dancers, Kasaan” (Alaska State Library, Place File Collection, photographer and date unknown, ASL-Kasaan-07). Probably taken in the late 1800s. It shows seven individuals – described in the caption as potlatch dancers – dressed in an array of ceremonial regalia at the Kaigani Haida village of Kasaan, Alaska. The mask then included a head covering, now evidenced only by a series of holes where it might have been attached. In the ensuing years, before 1922, the mask was acquired by Reverend William Henry Collison or his son, William Edwin Collison, and was passed down in their family until MOA purchased it in 1960.

Physical description

Mask depicting a bird/human face painted with a stylized design of feathers and animal's ear to one side of the forehead. Three carved folds on each cheek. Painted black on the mask's right side over the eye and on the lower forehead, and red on the mask's left side over the eye and on the lower forehead. Irregular spots of red paint over the nose, cheeks and chin, and on the scalloped black edge beside the mask's right eye. The bridge of the nose has a slight bump, and the red-lipped mouth is open to reveal an inlaid copper strip that represents teeth. Back, wooden bite.