Iroquois Masks

Published on December 31, 2011 by Amy

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Iroquois Portrait Mask
Iroquois Portrait Mask

Masks have been a part of the Native American culture for a very long time. The Native Americans use masks in dances in most religious ceremonies, for entertainment purposes, or as decorations. Many masks represented things like strength and wisdom.

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They would be worn to reenact stories. The Iroquois tribes are well known for their masks. Although many other Native American tribes make masks for decorations, dances, or crafts for sale, the Iroquois would only use their masks, called false faces, for religious purposes. The false faces masks are considered to be living representations of spirits and are made of wood or cornhusks. They are sometimes carved directly on a tree and then removed. If the mask was carved in the morning, it is painted red and if it was carved at night, it is painted black.

Red masks are powerful. Most of the masks have long black or white horse hair with metal eyes and crooked noses. If a mask is used for a different purpose, such as public display or sale, it is seen as mimicking the false face mask and the Iroquois tribes find it offensive. Because of this, many Iroquois tribe members have been trying to get their masks back from museums, so that they are not shared with the outside world. However, it is possible to buy a mask that was made by a member of another Native American tribe. These include Hopi kachina masks, Navajo and Apache leather masks, and Cherokee gourd masks.

Source: zanetawrona.wordpress Unabridged
Based on the collective work of, © 2015 Native American Encyclopedia.
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