This mask design is inspired of the Northern Alaskan Inupiaq people who still practice the Subsistence lifestyle. The various tribes of the Northern Inupiaq (In-nup-iaq), people have hunted the great Bowhead Whale since the ancient times. The whale provided the food source, clothing, and the hunting tools the people needed to survive the harsh winter environments. During the Spring season, the people would prepare for the hunt of the Bowhead whale using handcrafted skin boats made of driftwood frame and walrus skin.
The mask identifies the bowhead whale as the centerpiece, the Snowy owl is also highly respected as the owl that remains in the artic year-round, often feeding on Arctic tundra lemmings, and young Arctic hare. The wings of the snowy owl are also presented with the clawed feet of the Owl, also the tail of the owl are also presented. The Owl remains significant to the mask design only because it is highly respected for its endurance in survival of the harsh Arctic environments.
The front flippers of the whale are also shown on the mask design, relating the strength of the whale’s endurance in survival, and the ability in migrating for long distances of the Arctic Northern Hemisphere. The Bowhead whale’s survival depends on the Arctic ocean krill, a food source for its survival, and reproduction of the Bowhead whale species.
The inner circle of the mask presents the earth, and the breath of life in which we breath, the outer circle presents the universe, in which all life forms is created, the relevance of the masks made were made for trade of goods from the trading stores, later in time they were bought for cash value, that helped in providing for the family’s needs of tools and goods for the household. Beluga whales are also presented in this mask design and are often seen migrating to the Northern hemisphere with the Bowhead whales the design on the Beluga whale represents the Arctic cod a food source for the beluga Whale. The mask piece is tied together with the walrus sinew, an ancient string provided from the walrus.
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