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American Indian Masks & Headdresses

One of the most prominent expressions of American Indian cultural identity and artistry is the tradition of making masks and headdresses. Conjured by tribes for generations, these pieces reflect both the history of its people and the incredibly imaginative approaches of artists.

Though designed differently and popularized in different tribes, both masks and headdresses reflect an element of storytelling. The headdress, which first emerged within the Sioux Indian tribes of the Northern Plains, told the story of the leaders of the tribe. The design and components reflected great achievements and was recognized as a symbol of status and power by all around, whether worn during ceremonial gatherings or dances.

The mask, which originated in the tribes of the Pacific Northwest, also told a story, however it was typically more fantastical in nature. Instead of symbolizing real events, these masks were intended to represent heroic ancestors and spirits and were worn during dances and musical performances.


Quick Facts

  • Feathered headdresses were designed to specifically denote the wearer’s successes. Typically, a new feather was added upon a triumph of victory, so a greater number of feathers reflected a larger number of accomplishments
  • Different feathers were also intended to allude to different qualities. Raven feathers, for instance, connoted wisdom or sageness, while eagle feathers implied great courage
  • Many of the performances that incorporated the rich variety of Pacific Northwest masks were scheduled in the wintertime in part as a means of distracting the tribal population from the doldrums of season

Recommended Items at Auction

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Bella Coola Haida Northwest Coast Indian Wood Mask
Jul 13, 9:00 AM MDT
Bella Coola Haida Northwest Coast Indian Wood Mask
by Davis Brothers Auction
Est: $2,000- $3,000
$12010 Bids
CARVED AND PAINTED WOOD CEDAR CHIEF MASK
Jul 15, 6:00 PM PDT
CARVED AND PAINTED WOOD CEDAR CHIEF MASK
by O'Gallerie
Est: $400- $600
$4506 Bids
TSUNGANI (FEARON SMITH JR.) WOODPECKER MASK
Jul 15, 6:00 PM PDT
TSUNGANI (FEARON SMITH JR.) WOODPECKER MASK
by O'Gallerie
Est: $1,500- $2,000
$1,1005 Bids
Iroquois False Face Mask
Jul 18, 10:00 AM EDT
Iroquois False Face Mask
by New England Auctions
Est: $1,000- $2,000
$2253 Bids
Chief Sam Johnson - Northwest Coast Native Mask
Jul 18, 10:00 AM EDT
Chief Sam Johnson - Northwest Coast Native Mask
by New England Auctions
Est: $200- $400
$501 Bid
NORTHWEST COAST BEAR MASK
Jul 15, 6:00 PM PDT
NORTHWEST COAST BEAR MASK
by O'Gallerie
Est: $1,500- $2,000
$7501 Bid
West Coast Native Warrior Mask
Jul 14, 5:00 PM PDT
West Coast Native Warrior Mask
by Simrit Collection
Est: $950- $975
$7200 Bids
Kelly Peters (1889-1984); George Hunt Jr. (b. 1958), PORTRAIT MASK; BEAVER MASK
Jul 18, 11:00 AM PDT
Kelly Peters (1889-1984); George Hunt Jr. (b. 1958), PORTRAIT MASK; BEAVER MASK
by Waddington's
Est: $100- $200
$800 Bids
West Coast Native Winter Moon Mask
Jul 14, 5:00 PM PDT
West Coast Native Winter Moon Mask
by Simrit Collection
Est: $1,500- $1,700
$7500 Bids
CARVED AND PAINTED CEDAR SACRED WOLF SOCIETY MASK
Jul 15, 6:00 PM PDT
CARVED AND PAINTED CEDAR SACRED WOLF SOCIETY MASK
by O'Gallerie
Est: $2,000- $3,000
$1,0000 Bids
West Coast Native Moon Mask with Eagle Spirit
Jul 14, 10:00 AM PDT
West Coast Native Moon Mask with Eagle Spirit
by Simrit Collection
Est: $1,500- $1,700
$7200 Bids
West Coast Native Moon Mask with Eagle Spirit
Jul 14, 10:00 AM PDT
West Coast Native Moon Mask with Eagle Spirit
by Simrit Collection
Est: $1,700- $1,900
$8500 Bids
West Coast Native Moon Mask with Blue Heron Spirit
Jul 14, 10:00 AM PDT
West Coast Native Moon Mask with Blue Heron Spirit
by Simrit Collection
Est: $1,700- $1,900
$8500 Bids
West Coast Native Moon Mask with Wind and Tide Spirit
Jul 14, 10:00 AM PDT
West Coast Native Moon Mask with Wind and Tide Spirit
by Simrit Collection
Est: $1,500- $1,700
$9200 Bids
West Coast Native Moon Mask with Killer Whale Spirit
Jul 14, 10:00 AM PDT
West Coast Native Moon Mask with Killer Whale Spirit
by Simrit Collection
Est: $1,500- $1,700
$7500 Bids
West Coast Native Moon Mask with Wolf Spirit
Jul 14, 10:00 AM PDT
West Coast Native Moon Mask with Wolf Spirit
by Simrit Collection
Est: $1,500- $1,700
$7500 Bids
West Coast Native Warrior Mask With Killer Whale Spirit
Jul 14, 10:00 AM PDT
West Coast Native Warrior Mask With Killer Whale Spirit
by Simrit Collection
Est: $1,300- $1,500
$7200 Bids
Alaska Native Handmade Mask Leather Handcrafted Eskimo Folk Art Fur Unique!
Jul 13, 10:00 AM CDT
Alaska Native Handmade Mask Leather Handcrafted Eskimo Folk Art Fur Unique!
by Sofe Design Auctions
Est: $300- $500
$500 Bids
Northwest Coast Hand Carved Wooden Bird Mask
Jul 14, 3:00 PM PDT
Northwest Coast Hand Carved Wooden Bird Mask
by Clark's Auction Company
Est: $150- $300
$800 Bids
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A miniature Iroquois carved and polychromed mask, 2 5/8 x 1 3/4 x 1 1/2 in. (6.7 x 4.4 x 3.8 cm.)
Jul 31, 9:00 AM PDT
A miniature Iroquois carved and polychromed mask, 2 5/8 x 1 3/4 x 1 1/2 in. (6.7 x 4.4 x 3.8 cm.)
by Maynards Fine Art & Antiques
Est: $75- $100
$500 Bids
NORTH AMERICAN REGION INDIAN KACHINA MASK
Jul 27, 10:00 AM EDT
NORTH AMERICAN REGION INDIAN KACHINA MASK
by Antique Arena Inc
Est: $100- $150
$100 Bids

Sellers Who Sell American Indian Masks & Headdresses


Simrit Collection

Simrit Collection

O'Gallerie

O'Gallerie

Maynards Fine Art & Antiques

Maynards Fine Art & Antiques

New England Auctions

New England Auctions