Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Masks and the Spirit World

The masks represent images of powerful ancestors, animal spirits, and mythological beings. They are carved into wood or bark and there are many sizes. The smaller ones are used to teach children traditional stories. They are also carried by adults to protect against evil or injury. The bigger masks are used in ceremonial performances. Some masks you hold up with your hands or teeth and others were tied around the dancer's head. A long headed mask is a sign of power and authority. The whistling mask brings in spirits. After ceremonies the masks are broken and thrown out. They are part of communicating with the spirit world, which is dangerous. They are also used to respect animals so they will keep providing us with food. The masks are still used in Kodiak today and the traditions are mixed with Russian Orthodox and American beliefs.

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