Prospective purchasers are advised that several countries prohibit the importation of property containing materials from endangered species, including but not limited to coral, ivory and tortoiseshell. Accordingly, prospective purchasers should familiarize themselves with relevant customs regulations prior to bidding if they intend to import this lot into another country.
ƒ: In addition to the regular Buyer’s premium, a commission of 5.5%
inclusive of VAT of the hammer price will be charged to the buyer.
It will be refunded to the Buyer upon proof of export of the lot
outside the European Union within the legal time limit.
(Please refer to section VAT refunds)
Post Lot Text
This newly discovered mask from the Northwest Coast of America is particularly striking in its expressiveness and rare iconography. A precise origin of the mask is unknown.
According to Steve Brown, however, the eye sculpture, and the use of blue-green over much
of the face suggest the possibility of a Tlingit origin, though proportionally this mask is not a mainstream northern Tlingit style, either. Very possibly, though, it could be southern Tlingit, perhaps from the Tongass area, in which a clear Tsimshian infuence appears in certain totem poles and other carvings from that region (personal communication, November 2014). He further notes that the treatment of the mouth with attached material, is unusual, though this sort of embellishment can be used for eyebrows or to represent a beard.
Tlingit artists and their close neighbors, the Tsimshian and the Haida, have for a longtime exchanged creative ideas emmanating from a related cultural, religious and social organization, as well as the Kwakiutl et Bella Coola people. The Tlingit being the more prolifc amongst these different group, but, of course it does not preclude the existence of masterpieces across these artistic ateliers.
We can imagine that this mask played a role in ceremonial dances and display. During ceremonies, the maskers performed in interludes accompanied by other characters such as Laugher, Sleeper and Sneezer. These clowns entered the houses and used their power over the people of high rank, to make them laugh, sleep or sneez, in turn. When the audience began to laugh too much at these antics, the clowns turned against the crowd and scorned them. Once everyone had a good laugh, the clowns calmed down, implored their spells and left the scene (Hawthorn, 1967 p.280).
The mask contains components from the major realms of the forrest, lake and sea, but the most dominating image is likely the beaver as evidenced by the prominent front teeth, and possibly this was the wearer’s clan symbol. The beaver is featured in many myths
and legends, admired for its industriousness, strength at building and ability to live on earth and in a watery realm. The addition of sea
mammal whiskers at the crest and opercula teeth represent the sea, and the wood itself symbolizing the forrest.
The black paint of this mask comes from manganese and graphite, the blue was probably acquired by trade and red ochre was cooked to obtain different hues (Garfeld, 1951, p.63). The pigments were ground in stone mortars and mixed with a salmon egg mixture to obtain a rich and textured paint.
An ear is still extant, this is a rare quality in these portrait masks adding another delicate element of the human senses.