Longhouses

 

False Face

 

War Clubs

 

Dress Styles

 

Dance

 

Talking Stick

 

False Face Mask and Society

 

 

 

 

False Face

 

 

False Face History:
"False faces" are frequently associated with the Iroquois. They were the most prominent of a number of curing societies. Others used corn husk masks, etc. Someone who felt a need, frequently expressed in a dream, for a cure by the false faces would request the society to perform a ritual in his longhouse. Joining a false face society was also the result of a dream. The rituals were very short. A team of false face members, wearing their masks and thus impersonating spirits, entered the longhouse  sealing the doors. No one could enter during the ritual, else the ritual was ruined and must be performed again. After a short dance, the false faces left with the patient believing he had been cured. Since suggestion is such a powerful force and since the false faces frequently treated conditions such as depression or sadness, it would frequently work.

 

 

The False Face Medicine Society traces its origins to a grotesque, human-like monster said to have inhabited the rim of the earth. He was hunched over, held a hickory cane and carried a turtle rattle as symbols of his power. He challenged the creator and tried to take credit for having created the earth. To prove who had supremacy, the Creator and the monster agreed to a test of strength, which consisted of the ability to move a mountain. The monster was able to move the mountain slightly. But the Creator moved it such a great distance that when the monster turned around he struck his face into it and broke his nose. The Creator was so impressed with the monster's power that he put him in charge of the healing society, however for daring to question the Creator's rule the monster had to wear the distorted face. To this day, the Broken Nose is still a favorite mask style amongst the carvers of False Face masks. Members of the False Face Medicine Society pay respect to the False Face Spirits by offering tobacco and corn mush. In return they ask the spirits to prevent evils winds and crop-destroying diseases. They also ask that humans and their livestock be protected.

 
False Face Medicine Masks when carved for ceremonial use were usually carved from a live tree; preferably basswood or pine. If the tree survived the mask would have the power to cure. The most common mask styles are: Broken Nose, Whistler, Blower, Doorkeeper, Spoonmouth, Whirlwind (Split Face), Old Broken Nose, Protruding Tongue, Moving Tongue, Discipline, Smiler, Bear, Wolf, Frowner, Crooked Mouth, Beggar, Smallpox, Gagesah, and Longnose. Masks are named either for their function or for their description. The False Face Masks shown here can vary in sizes as well as the materials used in making them as I have described. Although not all of the different masks are shown here, there are enough to give the viewer a good prospective.

 

 

 

Blower Mask

 

Description:     > Iroquois False Face Mask - Blower Mask

 

 

 

 

 

Broken Nose with teeth

 

Contemporary...not carved for ceremonial use.> Iroquois False Face Mask - Broken Nose Mask with Teeth
This Iroquois  with teeth and tongue is beautifully carved from pine. It measures 11" high x 7" wide x 5" deep. Full size. 

The hair is made from cured black horsehair.

 

 

 

 

 

Broken Nose

 

Description:    
This Iroquois False Face Broken Nose Mask is beautifully carved from pine. It measures 11.5" high x 7" wide x 5" deep. Full size.
The hair is made from cured thick grey horsehair.
The eyes are made from copper plates which are nailed with small nails.
There is also a leather strap attached to the back to hang the mask.
The mask is a contemporary mask and was not carved for ceremonial use. However the mask should be respected  for its cultural and religious significance.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Intricately carved stone sculpture of Broken Nose by Cayuga Chief Jacob Thomas and hand signed by the creator with the date reading 1978. Measures about 4 1/4" x 2 3/4".  
Some History:
Chief Jacob Thomas was considered one of the most knowledgeable people from Six Nations regarding The Great Law and the Handsome Lake Code. There was an Iroquois False Face mask controversy. Some members of the Iroquois Nation are very sensitive about the sale of False Face Masks or their display in museums. Chief Jacob Thomas wrote a letter regarding this issue. In part, it read, "responding to your letter of October 3, 1994. Particularly today as there are no jobs this maybe the only source for the people to make a living is to sell their art. I believe that this is an honest thing to do rather than living on welfare or having to steal to provide for one's family. The masks that I carve are not "blessed" nor given any power for healing, and there is nothing wrong to sell these masks. On the other hand, I do agree when the people say that sacred masks should not be sold. This is the way I make my living I carve many forms of art and I make an honest living."


PLEASE READ THIS..."Jake Thomas and the Great Law" Maurice Switzer "Beyond the borders of his beloved Six Nations territory, Jake Thomas' death didn't make any headlines. When he died August 17th at the age of 76, he had been Cayuga chief for over half a century, a living archive for the Iroquois people. Chief Jacob Ezra Thomas was one of the first aboriginal people to obtain tenure as a university professor in Canada on the basis of his great wealth of traditional knowledge, and for 14 years he taught languages, culture, and history in Trent University's Native Studies department. He was the last man alive capable of reciting from memory the Great Law of the Iroquois Confederacy, which has served as the constitution for the people of the longhouse since before Europeans set foot on Turtle Island. In early summer, 1994, over a 12 day period, Chief Thomas gave a public recital of the Great Law, an event that was recorded on videotape and archived by the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples. "That peace is supposed to work," he told an RCAP hearing. "It's the power of the words of the Creator where they came from, of unity, being of one mind, a good mind. That's what makes power." The Great Law is the type of oral Aboriginal history that is scoffed at these days by the journalistic and academic elite, the same bigots who rail against modern-day Indian milestones like the Delgamuukw decision or Nisga'a Treaty signing that uphold Aboriginal title and inherent rights. It was also the democratic model used by founding fathers like Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson in the framing of the United States Constitution. Jake Thomas was a custodian of this precious gift, one of many shared by American Indian people with European newcomers. Typically, neither the gifts nor their givers receive much credit from the beneficiaries. Ironically, the most attention ever accorded Jake Thomas by mainstream society came during the last year of his life, when he agreed to participate in a recording by rock star Robbie Robertson that celebrated his Mohawk heritage. The Cayuga chief gave his blessing to Robertson's Musical return to his roots, understanding better than most people the ability modern art forms to help ancient cultures survive. I spotted the soft-spoken Elder standing by himself at a noisy reception following this year's Aboriginal Achievement Award ceremonies, where he had chanted and played a turtle rattle to provide the native context for Robertson's contemporary lyrics. In the middle of a forest of tuxedoes and glitzy evening gowns, this simple but profound man taught me how he honored the handle of his turtle rattle with tobacco each time he used it. Jake Thomas lived his culture, whether teaching Six Nations youngsters about nature in his sugar bush, or carving hickory condolence canes, traditionally used in the longhouse at the installation of a new chief, upon the death of his predecessor. His teaching will not end as long as visitors tour the Jake Thomas Learning Center at Six Nations, or Trent University continues to incorporate into its annual convocation ceremonies the condolence cane he presented to the Native Studies program on the occasion of its 25th anniversary. If Jake Thomas was a cultural icon for his people, the same cannot be said for the names on which the media focused during the week of his passing. The attention they received - and Jake Thomas didn't - speaks volumes about the priorities of "civilized" society. It was the usual cast of media celebrities - politicians doing about-faces on their principles, millionaire athletes using performance-enhancing drugs, a mobster gunned down in the driveway of his respectable suburban neighborhood. A lot of ink and air time that week was dedicated to a mounting scandal in Alberta, where senior officers of a provincialy-owned bank were being accused of accepting huge bribes in return for approving multi-million dollar loans to prominent businessmen. The bank would also be writing off almost half a billion dollars in taxpayers money used to fund the business operations of Peter Pocklington, former meatpacking and hockey team tycoon. What was so incongruous about this scandal is that it has been years in the making, escaping the scrutiny of Alberta politicians and journalists, who had been too busy focusing on the alleged financial difficulties of one Indian band which had run up a $3-million operating deficit. Chief Jacob Thomas is in a better place today, but only after dedicating his life to making this place a better one for all his people. We release you for we know it is no longer possible for you to walk together with us on earth."

 

 

 

 

Corn Husk

 

Corn Husk
Nice fine braid work on this mask. Iroquois may choose to use these masks during their Green Corn and Harvest Festivals. Mask measures 15 by 13 inches.

 

 

Whistler

 

Mask measures 15 by 13 inches.
This mask depicts a blower or whistler from Iroquoian mythology

 

 

 

 

Warrior Mask

 

Iroquois False Face  Mohawk Warrior Mask
This mask is beautifully carved from pine. It measures 11" high x 7" wide x 5" deep. 
The mask is covered with soften hide.
This again is a contemporary mask and was not carved for ceremonial use.

 

 

 

 

ring nose mask

 

Iroquois False Face Ringnose Mask
Carved from pine it measures 11" high x 7" wide x 5" deep.
The hair is made from cured black horsehair.
A contemporary mask, the ring in the nose is made from a single piece of wood.

 

 

 

 

Spoonmouth Mask

 

This Iroquois False Face Old Spoonmouth Wildman mask of the  woods is carved from pine. It measures 11.5" high x 7" wide x 5" deep. 
The hair is made from thick cured chestnut horsehair and is 34" long and it creates a mane around the mask.
The eyes are made from copper plates which are nailed with small nails.
There is also a leather strap attached to the back to hang the mask.
The mask is a contemporary mask and was not carved for ceremonial use. However the mask should be respected  for its cultural and religious significance.

 

 

 

 

Wide Lip Mask

 

Another Contemporary Mask is False Face Wide Lip Mask  sometimes also refered to as a Straight Distended is skillfully carved from pine. It measures 11" high x 7" wide x 5" deep.
The hair is made from cured black horsehair.
There is also a leather strap attached to the back to hang the mask.

 

 

 

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LG 2013