Wednesday, January 4, 2012

The History and Use of False Face Masks Among the Seneca

False Face Masks are carefully to be living and breathing "faces" that carry a spirit's presence with them. The masks are typically used in curative ceremonies to bring relief from health afflictions. There is a False Face society among the Iroquois tribes and those who are cured with the help of False Faces automatically come to be members. Believers in original Iroquois view do not believe or call these False Faces "masks" as they believe the faces are inhabited by living representations of spirits. False faces are even "fed" with a cornmeal "mush" and they accept gifts of tobacco for curative illnesses.

Iroquois legend has it that the beginning of the False Face Mask tradition came about because the "Creator," "God," "Divine supreme Being," whichever name you elect to use, encountered a stranger once, known in the Onondaga language as "Grandfather." The inventor challenged Grandfather in his potential to move a mountain. Grandfather made the mountain shake and rumble but was unable to move it. The inventor said Grandfather had some power but not adequate power to move the mountain. The inventor then moved the mountain to demonstrate his potential to Grandfather. The inventor told Grandfather not to look behind him when the mountain moved, but Grandfather was arresting and when he turned to look, the mountain struck Grandfather in the face and left his face broken and smashed.

Mohawk Indian Tribe

The inventor then employed Grandfather to safe his children but he knew the sight of Grandfather's broken face would scare the children, so Grandfather was exiled to the forests and private caves. To this day, sightings are reported of a lone figure, clothed in regal Iroquois attire, peering from behind the trees of the forest. He is said to have long hair and whether a red or black face. He only leaves the confines of the woods when called upon to heal or explain dreams. He is now referred to as "Old Broken Nose."

The History and Use of False Face Masks Among the Seneca

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Dreaming the Council Ways: True Native Teachings from the Red Lodge Overview

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To make a False Face, an Iroquois man walks among the trees of the woods until he feels inspired to carve a singular spirit's face from a singular tree. The spirit desiring the face carving stirs the soul of the Iroquois man and moves him with what to carve. He carves the representative face mask directly into and on the tree. The mask is only removed from the tree when it is finished. Basswood is the type of tree most often used. If the carving of the mask was begun in the morning, the Iroquois paints the face red. If it is begun in the afternoon, the color of option for the Iroquois is black.

The masks are given long flowing hair from horses: black, brown, reddish brown, white, or gray. Before European settlers brought horses to Native American lands and introduced them to the Iroquois, the Iroquois used buffalo hair and corn husks to adorn the masks. The eyes are set deep in the face and emphasized with pieces of metal. The noses are all the time made bent and crooked to honor "Old Broken Nose." The masks are constructed to carry tobacco pouches on their foreheads to receive cost for services rendered.

At False Face ceremonies, a extra language is spoken that only members can understand. The participants dress in worn rags and lean on a staff to record Grandfather's "ancient being." The False Face society members roam the town, going in and out of every home, finding for illness or disease so they can cure it. They also carry turtle rattles, which goes back to the Iroquois confidence that the world we live in is in effect resting on a turtle's back.

False Face Masks are carefully sacred by the Iroquois. Straight through the years, some Iroquois have sold the masks to tourists. The leaders of the Iroquois people, however, issued a strong statement against this practice and called for all masks to be returned to their home origin. Many museums and private collections have returned the False Face Masks to the Iroquois out of respect for their culture. Some are also afraid to own them as they may have extra properties which belong only to the Iroquois to use.

The History and Use of False Face Masks Among the SenecaPart 2 Native American Indian Segment Utah - Olypmics Video Clips. Duration : 5.70 Mins.

Part 2 Native American Indian Segment of Utah -- Olymics. First part introduced the five major Utah tribes; The Ute, Shoshone, Goshute, Paiute and Navajo (Dine). The second part has representatives of the five Utah tribes dancing. Robbie Robertson, who is part Mohawk of the Six Nations Reservation of the Haudenosaunee or Iroquois people, sings with Rita Coolidge/Walela a Cherokee group. They sing The Unity Stomp Dance.

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