Tlingit Masks

The Tlingit culture is quite complex. There are three classes of people, namely, the anyaddi who are the high class people, kanackideh who are the middle class people, and nitckakaku who are the low class people. Great emphasis is placed on material wealth as well as social comportment. If a person is well-behaved, kind, and generous, he will be highly regarded, but if he causes disruption within the tribe, he will most likely be ostracized. When marriages are arranged in the Tlingit tribes, they are often cross-cousin marriages, but some Tlingits also marry members of their grandfathers' clans. The lower class people are only allowed to marry one wife, but high class people can be polygamous.

Masks are an integral part of the Tlingit culture. Tlingit masks are usually painted to represent different levels of the spirit world, and they contain images of sky spirits, upper world spirits, and land spirits. Some masks feature the faces of dead relatives. Women's masks are a bit different from men's masks; they have labrets or piercings that show the social class of their wearers. A shaman's mask is extremely sacred to the Tlingit people.

Tlingit masks have a huge range of uses. Shamans usually wear humanlike masks with asymmetrical features during ceremonies. The most common type of ceremony is the death ceremony, where a party is held to celebrate a person's life. The Tlingit tribes rarely hold dance ceremonies, but they do have potlatch ceremonies, which are performed to mark a significant moment in a tribe member's life.

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