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Nunalleq masks

August 6, 2017

This season we have found twice as many whole full-size masks as we had in the collection before – covering all the seasons. As this is the earliest occupation we have excavated we think we can detect a change in practice when it comes to disposal of masks. The later house, the one that was eventually attacked and burned, stood for about three generations – with different occupation phases telling the story of the people living there through this time. From this time period we have two whole full size masks, and a third one that was broken in half, but we recovered both pieces and could reassemble it. These masks were found outside the house – in a refuse pit and outside the outer wall.

The masks from this year – the earlier house, that could have been occupied two or three generations before the later house was then erected on the same spot – have all been found inside the house. They are not found in house floor layers, but in more liminal areas of the house, but they also seem to bee connected to structural elements of the house – walls, pits, post holes… We’re starting to think maybe they had some kind of protective purpose – a thought that is strengthened by the large wooden head that Véro found at the base of a wall.

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Large wooden doll? head found by Véro at the base of a wall

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The first full size mask found. A seal-transformation mask found by Charlotta and Sandra in debris covering a house floor.

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The second mask was found by Véro at the bottom of a pit. It may represent and owl-transformation.

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The same day Anna found a third mask. This seal mask had been used as a post mold to support a structural post.

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How the seal mask was found, used as packing in the post hole.

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The fourth mask, a quite scary looking seal transformation mask. It was found by Charlotta in a leveling layer just at the corner of a wall.

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The fifth mask, a stylised human face wearing labrets, was found by Rick. It was set in between floor boards in a board walk in the passage way of an entrance to the house. 

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The mask in situ between floor boards.

Interestingly spatially the masks have been placed in connection to all the different rooms in the house. They also cover the whole occupation period, every generation of occupation seem to have at least one mask representing it. We believe the house was well protected.

Charlotta

One Comment leave one →
  1. Marilyn F. permalink
    August 8, 2017 05:59

    A wonderful collection – the fruits of your labor this year.

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