This mask design was first produced by a well-known mask maker of Nunivak Island. Bryon Amos a respected artist of Nunivak Island has been making and producing the art since the age of 9 years old. He is also known to produce whalebone sculptures, ivory and soapstone sculptures. He has designed artistic masks and sculptures for the tourism industry, also the professional shows both here in Alaska and within the National level of distribution.
The Beluga mask was first designed for the purpose that the Alaskan Natives of the Northern Arctic regions of Alaska. It is hunted for the delicacy of the outer skin as a food source. Beneath the skin lies a layer of fat, the blubber. The people of the North slope regions have hunted the Beluga whale for generations since the ancient times, it remains as a food source for the people today.
Beluga whales are not born white. It takes about 6 years until they gradually turn white. Belugas are one of the three Alaska whales that spend all their lives in arctic waters. Beluga are special among all whales because they can turn their heads. Maybe this is so that they can communicate with each other better! Beluga are very social and make a wide variety of sounds. Beluga whales are opportunistic feeders. They feed on salmon, tomcod, smelt, char, rainbow whitefish, saffron and arctic cod, herring.
The beluga whale is also produced and highly respected in sculptures of ivory, whalebone, and wood sculptures of the different tribes within the regions of Alaska. There are many well-known artists that produce the beluga whale, in this present time the beluga whale is still highly respected as a species of whales that will continue providing a special food source for the people, a delicate food source that provides supernatural nutrition in this present time.
The mask presents the Beluga Whale and the man that hunts the species until this present time. The top piece presents the Snowy Owl, then the front flippers of the Beluga, the wings of the owl, the side designs are made into Polar Bears with an ancient design of seals that present the heart of the Polar Bear as the predator of the Beluga whale. Then the feet of the snowy owl, the tails of the beluga whale, then the snowy owls tail. The inner ring presenting the earth in which we breath and partake of the breath of life. The outer ring presenting the Universe.
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