An Imas ancestor mask with a carved band atop, dramatic face paint in black and red, grimacing expression, cloth back at back.
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Ancestor Spirit Mask

The Imas is the founding ancestor of a given ‘namima or extended family group. There are different rankings for Imas which can be claimed by different family lines within the ‘namima. At a memorial potlatch, the Imas is shown. It is believed that the spirit of the ancestral being is present to witness and validate the transfer of all the deceased's privileges to the designated inheritor. When the Imas enters into the Bighouse, the attendants would spread mountain goat pelts on the floor for the Imas to walk on. The spirit of the first ancestor, as well as that of the recently deceased are called into the Big House to approve the transfer of privileges. The dancer travels in a counter-clockwise motion around the room in a slow, dignified manner.

Catalogue Information


Wood, Cedar; Fabric, Rope; Cloth, Cotton; Paint; Metal, Nails


27.0 cm x 34.0 cm x 30.0 cm

Accession Number


Physical Description

Imas mask carved from a single piece of red cedar. The humanoid mask has heavily delineated eyebrows and a "grimacing" expression. There is black scalloping painted around the mouth, on the cheeks. The inside of the lips is painted red. A rope harness is tied through holes in the top and sides. A piece of white cloth, with a commercially printed pattern, is nailed to the top and sides and hangs down the back of the mask. The design is painted on the bare wood in black and red.