• Incognita Nom de Plume

    The upper portion of a Yup’ik ceremonial mask from the early 1900s depicts walaunuk, the movement of bubbles rising to the surface of water. Among the Yup’ik of Alaska, bubbles are considered to be visible manifestations of breath and underwater life. A seal, for example, must willingly give up its life to a hunter and, when doing so, the animal’s soul retreats to its bladder. In reciprocity for this sacrifice, Yup’ik men inflate seal bladders during a five-day winter festival. At the close of the festival, the seal bladders are deflated under the ice, returning the animal’s spirit back to the water.

  • William Kimber

    Yup'ik mask representing walanuk (bubbles rising in water or spiriturally potent human breath.

  • Francene Levinson

    Native American Art: Mask representing walaunuk

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