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Like A Face

Giinaquq : Like A Face
Sugpiaq Masks of the Kodiak Archipelago
Featuring the collection of Château-Musée of Boulogne-sur-Mer, France

 

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Giinaquq

The Alutiiq word for mask - giinaquq - means “like a face, but not really.”  This term reflects the mystical place that carved faces held in Alutiiq culture.  Carefully crafted and ornately decorated masks were both works of art and powerful religious objects.  Made to share history and represent the spirit world, their use in ceremonies allowed Alutiiq people to communicate with the spirits that controlled life.  To the Alutiiq people, masks are - agayuullqutaq- “something to hold sacred.”

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19th Century Alutiiq Mask

Alutiiq Masks

Alutiiq dancers wore masks at winter festivals to act out stories, honor the deeds of ancestors, and praise the spirit world.  Giving thanks to an animal’s inner person - or sua - helped to insure a future supply of game and many masked performances were dedicated to this task.  Following such ceremonies, Alutiiqs destroyed or hid their masks to protect people from their power.

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Alphonse Pinart

The Collector

French anthropologist Alphonse Pinart spent his life studying native peoples and languages.  Financed by his family’s fortune, he sailed to Alaska in 1871.  In November, Pinart kayaked from the Aleutians to Kodiak, where he spent six months visiting Alutiiq villages, recording stories, and collecting objects.  Seventy-eight ceremonial masks were among his most important acquisitions.

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Castle Museum, Boulogne-sur-Mer

The Caretaker

Pinart returned to France and gave his collections to the Château-Musée of Boulogne-sur-Mer, where most remain today.  A small number of the masks are also cared for by the Musée du quai Branly in Paris.

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Masks in storage at the Chateau-Musee

The Collection

Pinart’s collection contains the largest set of traditionally crafted Alutiiq ceremonial masks in the world.  These pieces represent generations of spiritual and artistic knowledge, passed down from carver to carver and recorded in wood.  Some of the masks retain their original Alutiiq names and songs.  

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The Like A Face Exhibit in Kodiak

The Exhibition

In 2008, the Alutiiq Museum and the Château-Musée partnered to create an exhibition of 34 masks from Pinart's Kodiak collection.  The masks traveled to Alaska for nine months, visiting Kodiak and then Anchorage.  The following pages present an online version of the award-winning exhibition. We extend our most sincere thanks to the City of Boulogne-sur- Mer and the Château-Musée for allowing the masks to travel to Alaska.

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Zachary McGuire paints his mask.

Modern Exploration

By learning from these masks, Alutiiqs today are creating new artwork and songs, and revitalizing their culture.  In 2006, Alutiiq artists visited the collection in France.  Making Faces, an on line exhibit, and Two Journeys, an illustrated book, chronicle their discoveries.  In 2008, Alaskan teens studied the Pinart collection and made their own masks.  Future Masters, an on line exhibit, examines their journey.


A note about mask names and songs:
Each mask in this exhibition has an Alutiiq name.  Pinart recorded the underlined Alutiiq names (e.g., Payulik).  Contemporary Alutiiq speakers developed the other names to help describe the masks.  Some masks also have an associated song, translated by contemporary Alutiiq speakers from Pinart’s notes.

THE MASKS

Page 1

 
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Temciyusqaq
Skeptical One
988-2-141
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Igyuyrtulik
Searcher
988-2-159
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Nayurta
Watchman
988-2-153
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Nukallpiaq
Man
988-2-155
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Qup’arngasqamek Qanlek
Broken Mouth
988-2-161
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Tupasqaq
Surprised One
988-2-146
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Cupuwasqaq
Blowing One
988-2-148

Page 2

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Nakllegnasqaq
Pitiful One
988-2-158
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Ulluwatusqaq
Big Cheeks
988-2-164
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Qanrilgnuq
Mouthless One
988-2-173
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Aitauwasqaq
Open Mouth One
988-2-145
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Angun Qiaculngusqaq
Old Man Who Feels Like Crying
988-2-166
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Englaryuumasqaq
Grinning One
988-2-156
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Lurtusqaq
Wide One
988-2-160
 

Page 3

 
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Akagngasqamek Giinalek
Round Faced One
988-2-144
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Kukumya’arngasqaq
Whistler
988-2-151
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Spirit Taker
988-2-187
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Nakllegnaq
Pitiful One
988-2-183
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Tamallkuk
Married Couple
988-2-176
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Akrillria
Voyager
988-2-205
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Ashigik
Fool / Lucky One
988-2-202

I come my helper spirit.  The one from the Universe doesn’t know, wants to take you.
That one over there, that one, even if he comes to me, those over there in the smoke, he wants them.

 

Page 4

 
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Nalylgalan
One Who Doesn’t Know
988-2-204

I came.  I came.  Who is that?  Lift it up.
Where I came from, I came.  So there.
When I entered the men’s house, my mask kept leaving me.
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Ingillagayak
Weatherman
988-2-198

From where now my helper is coming, he is entering in on us our helper.
He came in on us.
My helper should we twirl this one?
Down (out) there in the tide flats, in the tide flat smoke my helper spirit.
Watch me, somewhere, watch me I will catch the game over there.
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Kuyauq
Big Nosed One / Thankful Person
988-2-175

Naryam mask, below the volcano turned to face it.
From the Universe I come down without skin.
This one coat put it on.
I thought somebody grabbed me.
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Giinasinaq
Big Face
988-2-165
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Unnuyayuk
Night Traveler
988-2-195

Why is it my helper spirit, why is it you are apprehensive of me on the seal rocks?
I will bring you game to be caught.
I went through the inside of the Universe, my helper, that one made me afraid.
I went down where they are motioning.
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Angun
Old Man
988-2-168

Where is my helper?
Will I find him down there?
Who should I take the catch to?
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Payulik
Bringer of Food
988-2-169

My helper don’t be afraid down there.
I am going up to the smoke of the seal rocks.
I am taking you down there.
 

Page 5

 
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Agayuq
Mask / Praying
988-2-200

I am looking now.  Where?  On the tide flats.
I am looking now.  Where?  In the smoke.
My helper spirit should I take you to the place of waiting?
Should I take you to the game that will be caught?
Should I take you to the ones that are dead?
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Unartuliq
Protector / Talisman
988-2-199

Why helper was he pushing down there?  I was not pushing.
He is taking you North to the Universe’s end.
From where?  This way.  Go inside the two are playing.
Even if you play music, answer me and go check on it.
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Putumasqaq
Pouting One
988-2-162
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Nakirnalik
Snub-Nosed One
988-2-171

Whenever I descend I want to go down into the ocean’s water.
Why is that one, my helper, crying down there?
My mask is trembling for the game that will be caught.
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Chumliiq
First One
988-2-172

My house up there, in the Universe up there, you don’t know it.
Is it behind the sun?  Is it behind the one up above?
My helper, I am approaching you from up above.  I keep trying to come.
My helper, that one’s lands doesn’t need performers.
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Umyaaqlluku Suumacillra
Remembering How They Lived
988-2-209
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Bird's Bowl
Saqullkanam Alutaa
Bird’s Bowl
988-2-211
 
 
 
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Qasgiq - Ceremonial House

Alutiiqs held festivals in a community house – or qasgiq, a large single-roomed structure built and maintained by a wealthy family.  Here men met to discuss politics, repair tools, and prepare for war.  In the winter, this building became a ceremonial center where people of all ages gathered to celebrate the events of the year and give thanks to animal spirits with singing, dancing, and feasting.

In preparation for festivals, the qasgiq was elaborately decorated with hunting gear and animal skins.  Hosts suspended paddles, harpoons, sea otter pelts, and even kayaks from the ceiling.  Guests arrived in their finest clothing and were seated according to their social position along the walls.  Men sat on earthen benches while women and children rested on the floor.

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Lliileq - Dance

Moving to the rhythmic beat of skin drums, men acted out stories and women danced in praise of ancestors.  As masked dancers appeared, the audience began to sway and an assistant rocked the gear hanging from the ceiling.  The first dancers were men who enacted scenes from recent hunts.  Gradually the dances progressed back in time, remembering the deeds of great ancestors and summoning spirits.  New dancers appeared with powerful masks, showing creatures half-human, half-bird.  These faces represented the arrival of these spirits to the festival, and their awareness of the human world.

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Atuun - Song

With songs, participants in winter festivals moved from the everyday world into a supernatural realm.  Singing invited spirits to the gathering and appealed to them for aid.  Songs were also sung to honor ancestors.  A forbearer might be memorialized with a mask and a specially written tune.  Masks and songs were also paired to tell stories - to remember a great hunt, to recount a battle, or to share a family legend.

 

DOWNLOADS & LINKS

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PRINTED MATERIALS:

Like A Face Exhibition Brochure

Like A Face Rack Card

Like A Face Press Kit



Like A Face Edition Newsletter

FOR TEACHERS:
High School Art Lesson -
by Bonnie Dillard

Upper Elementary / Middle School History Lesson

by Balika Haakanson
POD CAST:

Giinaquq: Like A Face
Key Note Address to the Alaska Historical Society
by Sven Haakanson, Jr.

PUBLICATIONS

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Exhibition Guide Chronicles Exploration

Museum collections are time capsules; rare windows into the past.  Collectors recognize the value of the artifacts they preserve, but they can never fully understand how these objects will benefit the future.  Collecting is both an act of scholarship and of unforeseeable generosity.  This is a message that shines through Two Journeys : A Companion to the Giinaquq – Like A Face Exhibition.

This 92 page hardback volume features stunning photographs of the thirty-five artifacts in the Giinaquq show, but it is much more than a catalog of pretty pictures.  Woven through the illustrations are stories of exploration – the history of Alphonse Pinart’s life and Alaskan travels, a moving description of the journeys Alutiiq artists have undertaken to rediscover their ancestor’s work, and a summary of patient efforts to share the collection in an Alaskan exhibition.  The title of the volume refers to these journeys – Pinart’s 1871 trip to Alaska and the 2005 trip of Alutiiq artists to France.

Pinart’s gift to the Alutiiq people is clear in the words of artists who visited the masks.  Featured throughout the text they express joy, reverence, and amazement.  To help the exploration of this remarkable collection continue, the book includes artifact photographs from different angles, object dimensions, information on raw materials, and Alutiiq names.  The presentation brings the masks to life, providing a richer sense of the objects and their great value to Alutiiqs today.  Copies of Two Journeys are available through the Alutiiq Museum Store for $29.99.

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Collection Catalog

The Giinaquq: Like A Face exhibition may be gone, but it is still possible to see the mask collection.   A book, published in 201 brings French collector Alphonse Pinart’s entire assemblage of Kodiak Alutiiq masks to print.  With help from the University of Alaska Press, the Alutiiq Museum  eunited images of 78 masks stored in two French museums – the Château-Musée of Boulogne-sur-Mer and the Musée du quai Branly of Paris – in a beautifully designed collection catalog.

“The exhibition featured less than half of the Alutiiq masks Pinart took back to France,” explains Alutiiq Museum Executive Director Sven Haakanson, Jr.  “This catalog will provide a comprehensive look at all the masks Pinart collected, and tie his notes on ceremonial practices with the pieces.  It’s a way for us to bring more of the pieces and their information home. ”

Published in both English and French, the book includes articles about the collection, its history, and its ties to the Alutiiq people, as well as recent translations of mask songs, dances, and stories recorded by Pinart.  Contributors to the volume are Sven Haakanson, Jr., Amy Steffian, Anne-Claire Laronde, Gordon Pullar, Perry Eaton, Jeff Leer, Nick Alokli, Mary Haakanson, Florence Pestrikoff, and Doug Inga.   Koniag, Inc. and the Kodiak Island Housing Authority provided funding for the publication, which is currently in production.  Preorders can be placed through Amazon.com  or the University of Chicago Press.

SPONSORS

Quyanaasinaq - Our most sincere thanks to exhibition sponsors
 

ELDERS

Afognak Native Corporation
Alutiiq Heritage Foundation
Anchorage Museum at Rasmuson Center
Château-Musée
ConocoPhillips Alaska
First Alaskans Institute
Institute for Museum and Library Services
Kodiak Area Native Association
Kodiak Island Housing Authority
Koniag, Inc.
Natives of Kodiak, Inc.
Old Harbor Native Corporation
Rasmuson Foundation

 

STORY TELLERS

Akhiok-Kaguyak, Inc.
Alaska Army National Guard - Kodiak
Alaska State Museum
Will & Jill Anderson
Sven & Balika Haakanson
Koncor Forest Products
National Museum of the American Indian
Northern Air Cargo
 

FRIENDS

Alaska Fresh Seafoods
Nick Alokli
Anonymous
Don Argetsinger & Lynda Hadley
Ruth Dawson
Jim & Bonnie Dillard
Tony & Sandee Drabek
Perry & Ardene Eaton
Walt Ebell & Dianna Gentry
Ben Fitzhugh & Laada Bilaniuk
Charlotte Fox & Mike Stinebaugh
Patty Ginsburg & Steve Lindbeck
Mary Haakanson
Willie & Kathy Hall
Dick & Andrea Hobbs
Mary K. Hughes & Andrew Eker
John C. Hughes Foundation
Julie Kaiser
Rick Knecht
Jeff Leer
Susan Malutin
Bob & Denise May
Michael O'Connor
Tom Panamaroff
Rick Pelasara
Florence Pestrikoff
LeRoy Pettijohn
Gordon Pullar
Kim & Cameron Reitmeirer
Rotary International – Kodiak Club
Patrick & Zoya Saltonstall
Amy Steffian & Steven Hall
Steve & Linda Suydam
Sugpiaq, Inc.
Andy Teuber & Natasha Kutchick
Jana & Richard Turvey
Donene & Arnold Tweten
Eric & Jennifer Waltenbaugh
Laurel Jean Zampa