19th-20th c Native American Tlingit Sculpture
(active 18th c ? - present)
Klukwan Village. Alaska. United States.
Philadelphia. University of Pennsylvania Museum.
This mask has an extraordinary expressive power. It shows the shaman in human form that he might wear when coming to cure a patient. He would arrive tapping the ground with a carved staff to warn of his approach, and wearing a beaded necklace that served as a soul catcher, and he would be shaking a rattle. His helper would beat on a drum and he would sing something like the following:
O Supernatural Power, I beg you to take pity and to cure this our friend.
O Supernatural Power, I implore you, take pity and remove this sickness of our friend.
Take pity, O Supernatural Power, that I may make this friend of ours to live again.
O Great Real Supernatural Power, Great Life Bringer, Supernatural Power,
Help me to remove easily this sickness of our friend.
---recorded by Franz Boas in 1913
TLINGIT | Shaman's mask | Northwest Coast: Tlingit | Native American