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Yup'ik Mask

Calista, Alaska

Various Objects


By (artist) Inconnu


Mask from the Kuskokwim tundra in Alaska, now conserved at the Museum of Quai Branly.

A rare Eskimo mask representing a human face inscribed at the center of a sort of shield decorated by a border of nine feathers. The forehead is prominent, the eyes are round and are carved in deep cavities of the facial structure. The mouth is protrusive and open, revealing teeth in the form of fangs. The mouth and the chin are enhanced by a red coloring.

According to the information collected by Maria MacWilliams at the Natural Museum of American Indians, this mask would have been found in a tundra cemetery of the Eskimo tribe Kuskwogmiut or Kuskokwim.

Inside the mask, there is a small label on which André Breton wrote n° 30, Friday the 18th of May 195...

The Natural Museum of the American Indians (the Smithsonian Museum) has conserved eleven small ties that belonged to this mask. [Auction catalogue, 2003]

A monoxylic sculpture, the mask is sculpted from the interior of a piece of wood. The mask is bordered by nine feathers. The forehead is prominent, the eyes circular, the nostrils flared. The open mouth holds teeth in the form of fangs, and is colored red, like the chin. [Museum of Quai Branly].



- Alain Jouffroy, « La collection André Breton », L'Œil, n° 10, octobre 1955, rep. p. 34
- Roger Caillois, Masques, Paris, Éditions Olivier Perrin, 1965, rep. p. 41
- William Rubin, Primitivism in XXth century art - Affinity of the Tribal and the Modern, New-York, The Museum of Modern Art, 1984, rep. p. 578
- Germain Viatte, Tu fais peur tu émerveilles, Musée du Quai-Branly, acquisitions 1998/2005, Musée du Quai-Branly/Réunion des Musées nationaux, Paris, 2006, p. 43 et p.182, rep. p.55 et 180, fig. 155.

Creation dateXIXe siècle
Physical descriptionHaut : 45 cm (17 3/4 in.) - Bois, polychromie rouge, patine d'usage
From / ProvenanceLa Heye Foundation, numéro d'inventaire 1/6808, a reçu ce masque par échange en 1901 avec le Free Museum of Science and Art, Philadelphia-Pensylvania. En janvier 1945, échange avec Julius Carlebach.
Place of origin

Musée du Quai Branly, Paris : 70.2003.9.3

Size60,00 x 21,00 x 8,00 cm
Weight976,00 gr
Breton Auction, 2003Lot 6168
Keywords, , ,
CategoriesNative Americans, Etnographical Art, Inuit Yup'ik Art
Permanent link
Places of origin

See also

1 Work

Photos d'objets d'Amérique du Nord et d'Océanie


Deux albums de photographies d'objets d'Amérique du Nord et d'Océanie, annotées par André Breton.

121 images, une courte notice descriptive, des liens.

[Photos d'objets] photos in the studio

1 Comment

Coquille : il s'agit de "Maria McWilliams au National Museum of the American Indian".


On peut ajouter que Robert Lebel écrit sur son carnet que le masque représente un "phoque sortant de la glace" - à comprendre comme le yua du phoque sortant de la glace.