Doctor Mask

About this object

History of use

This 'doctor's mask' is one that an First Nations doctor would wear for specific communication with spiritual aids during the treatment of the patient. The combination of design and colour on the mask imparts to the doctor spiritual and healing power.

Cultural context

ceremonial

Iconographic meaning

On this 'doctor's mask' the black band across the eyes represents the band of charcoal that the doctor would smear across his forehead. The white patches showing through representing a thunderbird. Because it is a spiritual character, the image is depicted floating on the mask. The mask therefore represents a spiritual idea- a sense of healing power.

Physical description

The shape of this mask is triangular with two planes intersecting on the median of the face. The forehead is high and smooth. The forehead is overpainted by a thunderbird design in black and green with the bird's head on the mask's left side. The thunderbird has oval black eyes surrounded by a plain tapering oval and a green area, a cross shape in the ovoid nostril, and four green split u feathers. The black eyebrows of the mask are raised and extend from the nose to the back edge of the mask. The eyes are placed on the upper cheek plane, with no orb, under a projecting and sloping under-brow. The eye is shallowly engraved and its centre is a round hole. A black band is painted across the eyes with some unpainted patches showing through. The nose, from which the cheek planes slope, has black drawn-back hollow nostrils. Black and green split u thunderbird feather designs extend down the cheeks. Narrow black lips are pulled back and down showing twelve plain teeth. A ridge around the bottom of the mask, painted black in the middle, is the chin.