North American Styles
North American Styles are distinguished, for the purpose of this category, by the separation of the Pacific Northwest styles. The Northwestern styles in this category include the American Indian styles and Southwest styles as well as some indigenous tribes from the North-East United States.
Woodland tribes, especially in the North-East and around the Great Lakes, cross-fertilized culturally with one another. The Iroquois made spectacular wooden ‘false face’ masks, used in healing ceremonies and carved from living trees. These masks appear in a great variety of shapes, depending on their precise function.
Pueblo craftsmen produced impressive work for masked religious ritual, especially the Hopi and Zuni. The kachinas, god/spirits, frequently take the form of highly distinctive and elaborate masks that are used in ritual dances. These are usually made of leather with appendages of fur, feathers or leaves. Some cover the face, some the whole head and are often highly abstracted forms. Navajo masks appear to be inspired by the Pueblo prototypes.
In more recent times, masking is a common feature of Mardi Gras traditions, most notably in New Orleans. Costumes and masks (originally inspired by masquerade balls) are frequently worn by krewe members on Mardi Gras Day. Laws against concealing one's identity with a mask are suspended for the day.
My current inventory of North American masks can be viewed by clicking on the links below or selected from the pull-down menu.
Decorated American Indian