Found in Central New York State – Circa 1860 – 1890
“FALSE FACE” – is a misnomer, the mask is in no way intended to hide the wearer. It is worn to transform the wearer into the spirit embodied in the wooden image. Its significance rests in their Power which is especially efficacious in healing rites. This Common Face Mask was originally carved from a living tree to acquire the Earth’s and Sky’s Power. Painted red symbolizes that it was begun in the morning and the daily journey following the sun. The features of masks vary according to their intended function, dreams, visions; experiences by the carver and local styles. A mask that lacks the distorted features are said to belong to a owner that may have accumulated more sacred powers. This mask has deep-set eyes encircled by tin reflectors. The brows are arched and divided above the nose by a crease or comb of spines, like those on a snapping turtle’s tail. All is framed by a wig of horsetails. Certain older Onondaga masks have a marked Negroid appearance, and it may be relevant that the Black Prince, one of the great Onondaga Chiefs, mid 18th Century was a mulatto. Thus, the distinctive character and local styles affected the Carver’s Art.
Within the Iroquois Story of Creation – it is the Mud Turtle’s cosmic function as earth’s bearer that accounts for its adoption as a magic rattle by the Great Defender, or Crooked Face, patron spirit of the curing Faces. He, in turn, decreed that the members of the Society of Faces make Sacred Rattles from the body of the Mud Turtle and use them in curing ceremonies. The noise of the rattle represents thunder and would frighten away disease.
These IMPORTANT 19th CENTURY IROQUOIS OBJECTS are compelling. Each is loaded with symbolism of respect from myth to the ritual of carving. Together they are part of a Living Culture and Tradition which is ongoing today.
Sale is of the rattle and the mask will be given to purchaser