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Complex Yup'ik dance mask depicting the Inua (spirits) of several sea mammals | Donald Ellis Gallery

Complex Dance Mask

Likely Goodnews Bay, Southwest Alaska

ca. 1890-1905

wood, paint, vegetal fiber

height: 34 ½"

Inventory # E4200

Please contact the gallery for more information.

This mask was collected in Alaska in the late 19th century by Joseph E. Chilberg. Chilberg traveled to Alaska for the gold rush, and over a period of approximately 20 years, amassed a large and significant collection of Yup'ik art. In 1917 Chilberg established Chilberg’s Alaska Museum of Arctic Antiquity and Curio Emporium in Long Beach, California, which remained in operation until 1935.


Joseph E. Chilberg
Museum of the American Indian, New York, Cat. No. 5/430, exchanged to Edward Primus in October 1957
The artist Roberto Matta, Paris, France, by descent through the family


Arts primitifs dans les ateliers d’artistes, Paris, Musée de l’Homme, 1967, in the catalogue: plate 33: the caption reads as follows : “Collection Matta MASQUE H. 84 cm , Eskimo, Alaska, Epoque contemporaine. Bois peint. Masque d’inua représentant le saumon et son double humain, à face gaie et à face triste, selon peut-être qu’il est favorable ou défavorable au pêcheur.
Moon Dancers: Yup'ik Masks and the Surrealists, Field, Jennifer (Ed.), Di Donna Galleries, New York, 2018, pgs. 128, 130-131, 143. (Exh.: "Moon Dancers: Yup'ik Masks and the Surrealists", Di Donna Galleries, New York, April 27 - June 29, 2018)

Related Examples

Anchorage Museum of History and Art, Calgary, Alberta – See: Ager Wallen, Lynn. The Face of Dance: Yup’ik Eskimo Masks From Alaska. Calgary: The Glenbow Museum, 1990 pg. 29 for a smaller mask in the image of a salmon.

Denver Art Museum – See: Rousselot, Jean-Loup and Abel, Bernard. Pierre, Jose. Bihl, Catherine. Masques Eskimo D’Alaska. Editions Amez, 1991, pg. 157 for a later complex mask in the form of a salmon

Thomas Burke Memorial Washington State Museum, Seattle, WA, 
Cat. No. 4528 – See: Fienup-Riordan, Ann. The Living Tradition of Yup'ik Masks. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1996, pg. 162 and Rousselot, Jean-Loup. Abel, Bernard. Pierre, Jose. Bihl, Catherine. Masques Eskimo D’Alaska. Editions Amez, 1991, pg. 267 for a similar monumental mask collected by Ellis Allen in 1912

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