Sunday, November 3, 2013

Masks of the Iroquois Confederacy 'False Face Society'

Native Americans are traditionally very spiritual people. Perhaps none more so than members of various clans of the Five (then Six, after 1722) Nations of the Iroquois Confederacy of New York - Seneca (Keepers of the Western Door), Cayuga, Onandaga, Oneida, Tuscarora, Mohawk (Keepers of the Eastern Door).
Clan traditionalists continue to hold that all creatures of nature - trees, plants, animals, the moon - have spirits of their own that either help or impede a person. A spirit can be prayed to for help and guidance. For guidance, members of a village are encouraged to recall/interpret their dreams, which hold great significance to tribal elders.

If a member needs help, he/she visits a spiritual doctor, a shaman, or contacts the False Face Society. The False Face Society was a collection of healers who used special masks with spiritual properties they carved themselves. The Society has largely disappeared today, but their fascinating masks remain; part of an amazing cultural legacy.

I've never 'owned' one of these remarkable carvings, mostly because I know the Iroquois believe each mask to be a living entity, and as such, in possession of a free and roaming spirit. In addition, the masks are sacred and should be handled only by chosen healers. In recent years, Iroquois leaders have made serious attempts to retrieve these masks from collectors, non-indigenous museums, etc. Karonhia:ke - Behold, the sky world!
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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

please remove picture of the mask