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Tlingit headpiece

Pulse para ampliar

Dated: 1775-1800

Cultural Context: Tlingit style (Northwest Coast)

Origin: Alaska (United States)

Medium: Wood, leather, shell, silver, copper and pigments

Technique: Carved, painted, perforated, twisted, cast, moulded, inlaid

Dimensions: Height = 18.7 cm; Width = 17.6 cm; Depth = 7.6 cm

Inventory no.: 13902

Headpiece combining human and animal features. The face has large, arched eyebrows, slanted eyes with silver pupils, a beak-shaped nose, a large mouth and detached ears made of copper. Under the chin, it has two copper claws riveted together and a mouth with thick lips and two rows of teeth made of shells. Painted in green, brown and grey, these headpieces could be used as part of the costume by shamans and other prominent men of the community during dances in Tlingit ritual ceremonies. The aim of these celebrations was to establish contact with the spirits, as the shamans obtained their powers from them. In this case, some of the materials used, such as copper or silver, indicated the high social status of the wearer. The representation of a face with human and animal characteristics may allude to supernatural beings protecting the clan. This piece is part of a group of works collected in the last third of the 18th century during the various Spanish scientific expeditions that reached this region.