The Collection

Home Page > Works > A Kinugumiut or Napaskiak Mask

A Kinugumiut or Napaskiak Mask

Kuskokwim River, Alaska

Various Objects


By (artist) Inconnu


Mask representing a human face pigmented in two colors, the top part is a yellow ochre and the details of the face are colored in red.

Created with the utmost artistry, this mask represents a human face, in striking realism. Pigmented in two colors, the top part is a yellow ochre while the details of the face are colored in red. The eyes and the nostrils are almond-shaped, and are created of circular perforations in the wood. The open mouth is in the form of a crescent, with the points turning downward. The lips are drawn, encircling this shape. At the back of the mask there is a double hoop in wicker, on which eight white feathers rest, bordering the face of the mask.

According to the archives at the Heye Foundation, this little mask represents Akasta, the sun, and is originally from the region of Bethel, on the south side of the Kuskokwim river. The beautiful quality of the sculpture, as well as the exceptional artistry that this mask holds, is an exquisite account of the Kuskokwim culture. [Auction catalogue, 2003]



- Paris, Musée National d'Art Moderne/Centre Georges Pompidou, André Breton, La beauté convulsive, 1991, rep. p. 375 (photo Sabine Weiss, 1956, dans l'atelier)
- 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
- Alain Jouffroy, « La collection André Breton », L'œil, n° 10, octobre 1955, rep. p. 34

Physical description

Bois tendre, polychromie rouge et blanche, plumes, fibres végétales, patine d'usage

From / ProvenanceAncienne collection A. H. Twitchell, Heye Foundation n° d'inventaire 09/3411, échangé avec Julius Carlebach le 10 mars 1945.
Place of origin
Size26,70 x 29,20 x 3,80 cm
Breton Auction, 2003Lot 6171
Keywords, , ,
CategoriesNative Americans, Etnographical Art, Inuit Yup'ik Art
ExhibitionMoon Dancers : Yup'ik Masks and the Surrealists
Permanent link
Place of origin