Native American Masks


Native American Mask History

Masks are defined as a covering for all, or part, of the face. They can be used as protection, disguise, entertainment, or performance. Native Americans use masks for ceremonies, as gifts, and each one was hand-crafted. They were typically created in the stylings of an animal, because they believed that each tribe was descended from an animal. Native Americans believed that the masks they created were not to disguise, but to reveal themselves. These masks were generally constructed of whatever materials Native Americans had on hand. This includes wood, leather, and even gourds.

Styles of Native American Masks

Native American masks were most often crafted in the likeness of animals, however sometimes they were created to imitate humans. These masks were called Humanoid masks. Today, Native American masks are used for dances, cultural dramas, decorations, and crafts for sale. However, there are two types of masks that are forbidden from being sold, because they have too much sacred importance to the tribes that created them. These masks are the False Face masks, created by the Iroquois, and the Kachina masks, created by the Hopi. False Face masks are designed in the likeness of humans, and they are so sacred that they are not permitted to be viewed without the proper ceremony. Kachina masks are designed in the likeness of animals. Kachinas can be viewed by anyone, and visitors are welcomed to see Native Americans perform dances with these masks. Native American masks are very carefully sculpted and often use solid colors, or no color at all.

My Opinion

I would describe their style as very meaningful and I admire the many styles of Native American masks. I like the way Kachina masks reflect an animal likeness. The smooth texture and creative attributes of Native American masks make these creations absolutely captivating. Each Native American mask is hand crafted, and each one seems to hold a story of its own.