Native cultures have always harboured a strong connection to the spiritual world through rituals, ceremonies, and traditions. The cycle of life and death was not something to mourn or to fear because the dead protected the living and granted them blessings that allowed their existence to thrive with new life. Masks played an important role in these traditions. They were created to portray ancestors, animals, and mythical heroes in the hopes that the spirit would be pleased and would bless the tribe with protection or good tidings. They were also worn in celebratory circumstances.
Native people created and wore ceremonial masks to connect and communicate with the spirit world, a place that played an important role in their lives. Diverse cultures created different styles of masks based on the type of materials available, or specific beliefs, but they were all created with a common purpose: to celebrate life and death. This online exhibition will examine ten mask styles from parts of the world that are used in various circumstances beginning on the north-west coast of Canada, travelling south to the Torres Strait and Papua New Guinea area while finishing on the continent of Africa. The hope is that upon learning about cultures and their ways of doing things, you will see that at the core we are all very similar in our hopes and fears despite our beliefs.