For information on symbolism used in Eskimo masks see Fitzhugh and Kaplan, 1982, p. 198: "When making masks...a craftsman utilizes a variety of standard visual forms to symbolize religious and other concepts known to the people who regularly view these objects. ...Masked visages and transformed characters are signaled by the use of black spectacle goggles, by black circles around the eyes, or by sections of goggle frames....Analogy to lunar phases is suggested by round and crescentic eyes and twisted mouths. Magical treatment or indications of spiritness are also shown by using red, white, or orange spots, or by eyes in the middle of red painted ovals. However, the specific meaning of many of these remains unclear."
For a discussion of masks as they relate to mythology in Eskimo culture see Fitzhugh and Kaplan, 1982, p. 180: "Mythology plays an important role in the people's everyday lives and its cast of characters forms the basis for stories and dramatic presentations in the qasgiq. When used as illustrations or carvings, images of mythological characters serve both as decorative emblems and as mnemonic devices – keys to characters and sequences of events that take place in a story or set of related stories – and give visual substance to oral traditions. The illustration of mythological characters and events seen on the inside covers of men's work boxes is more strongly and publicly affirmed through painted and incised drawings on ladles, wooden bowl bottoms, ivory wedges, boats, masks, and other artifacts."
Ibid. p. 187:
"The ability of men and women to transform themselves into other beings, while always retaining their inuas, result in an unpredictable world in which one cannot be sure of true identity of any given creature. A powerful, potentially evil spirit may take the form of a weasel and or a mouse to eavesdrop on men's intentions or to bring aid to a captured person....Shaman's make use of transformations in their performances and magic...These transformations may be the basis for the many 'half-creatures' known in Bering Sea stories and mythology."
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