convex circular form, carved in high relief with a mask bearing a combination of human and hawk attributes; painted with red, yellow, green and black pigments; encircled by 14 abalone shell plaquettes in round and oval shapes

Frontlet, c. 1820

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Frontlets are masterpieces of Northwest Coast art, and many of the finest were produced by the Tsimshian. The frontlet formed part of an imposing decorative headdress worn by both men and women as the crowning feature of a ceremonial outfit that indicated wealth and status. This one is a rare, round example.The mask portrays a man transforming into a bird, perhaps an eagle, one of the four Tsimshian clans. Bright paint, now faded, is still visible on the mask's face, which is carved in this culture's classic early style. A border of shimmering abalone shell, a valuable item traded from California, rings the face. Together with its surrounding headdress, the frontlet produced an effect of great splendor.

Details
Title
Frontlet
Role
Artist
Accession Number
2002.195
Curator Approved

This record is from historic documentation and may not have been reviewed by a curator, so may be inaccurate or incomplete. Our records are frequently revised and enhanced. If you notice a mistake or have additional information about this object, please email collectionsdata@artsmia.org.

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convex circular form, carved in high relief with a mask bearing a combination of human and hawk attributes; painted with red, yellow, green and black pigments; encircled by 14 abalone shell plaquettes in round and oval shapes