Yup’ik, Kuskokwim River, Alaska, 19th century
Wood, pigment, goose feathers
Height : 34 cm
Provenance : Adams Hollis Twitchell, Alaska (before 1908) Museum of the American Indian, New York
The Heye Foundation, inv. n° 9/3406
Acquired by Julius Carlebach in Jan. 1945, New York Maria Martins, New York et Paris
Sotheby’s, New York, Juin 2004, n°19
Private collection, Brussels
This important and powerful Yup’ik mask collected by Adams Hollis Twitchell in the late 19th century probably represents “Isanuk” the walrus. In his personal notes, Twitchell describes it as the representation of “the spirit that drives the walrus, sea-lions and seals towards the shore so the hunter can get them”.
The mask appears on a photo showing Twitchell with other important masks, circa 1908 (see be- low). We know that Twitchell collected three Isanuk masks near Bethel and sent them to George Heye with identical descriptions. The two other masks, less sculptural and impressive, are still in the Heye Foundation. One is published in Ann Fienup-Riordan book, page 252 (NMAI °9/3398), and the second in “Indian Art of the United States”, Douglas et d’Harnoncourt (1941 : 193).
Price on request