Seagull Mask by Sam Hunter (Yup’ik), 1945-6, Hooper Bay, Naparyaarmiut- courtesy of Alaska State Museum – Juneau
Explore their web-site to see more: http://museums.alaska.gov/asm/
Yup’ik culture includes a vast amount of ceremony, dance, and costumes. The masks have always helped the Real People to see through the eyes of the animals, and they are used in ceremonies to tell a story.
According to the Yup’ik story of the beginning, the first humans emerged from pods of beach grass. The animals saw the first humans as vulnerable creatures so they would offer themselves to the Human hunters, who could use their skins as clothing in the winter and consume their flesh as food. In return the Real People showed Respect, Gratitude, and Humility towards the animals.
I choose this artifact because it tells a beautiful story about the strong connection between Yup’ik people and animals.