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Frontlet: Gallery Label - Current


Minneapolis Institute of Arts



Institution Minneapolis Institute of Arts
Frontlets are masterpieces of Northwest Coast art, and many of the finest were produced by the Tsimshian. The frontlet formed part of an imposing decorative headdress worn by both men and women as the crowning feature of a ceremonial outfit that indicated wealth and status. This one is a rare, round example.

The mask portrays a man transforming into a bird, perhaps an eagle, one of the four Tsimshian clans. Bright paint, now faded, is still visible on the mask's face, which is carved in this culture's classic early style. A border of shimmering abalone shell, a valuable item traded from California, rings the face. Together with its surrounding headdress, the frontlet produced an effect of great splendor.

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Type: Commentary, Gallery Label - Current
Source: Minneapolis Institute of Arts
Rights: Copyright Minneapolis Institute of Arts
Added to Site: November 21, 2009