Native American Masks

The use of Native American masks date back to ancient times. The masks were so popular that certain tribesmen worked solely to create different masks. The masks held importance in each tribe because they were worn for different types of celebrations and events. Each mask held a different meaning and most were used only during specific celebrations.

The most popular product used for the creation of Native American masks was wood, but tribes typically used wood that was readily available. In the northwest the tribes used cedar because it was plentiful, while in the east they often used maple wood. Carvers laid out the design on the face of the mask and then slowly carved away until the design appeared. They coated the outside of the mask with natural dyes and colors to create the final mask. Berries were commonly used to create shades of red and pink.

Resources on Native American masks include:

The masks often relied on the needs of the tribe. A tribe in the northwest created one that had two layers, which they wore during dances. At a point in the dance, they removed the top mask to show the one beneath. Navajo and Apache tribes created their own dance masks, made entirely out of leather. The Iroquois also created their own masks, which used cornhusks to add dimension and color.

There are many artists today still creating traditional Native American masks. They're popular in modern day dances and celebrations such as powwows. Modern day masks take on the same appearance as the traditional ones, but use newer products. They're available from retailers that specialize in Native American art and products.

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