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Carved wooden 'spirit mask', Alaska, 1801-1900

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A shaman is a religious figure and healer who in times of crisis sometimes calls upon the aid of supernatural forces. This ‘spirit mask’, depicting the distorted face of a helping spirit, was worn by an Inuit shaman or angakok in Alaska, North America. These masks were used in ritual dances to ensure good hunting and good health. The shaman’s role is to communicate with the spirits and ask their help for the sake of the community.

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Glossary: mask

A covering worn on or held in front of the face for disguise, to amuse, terrify or to symbolise.