Hidden Faces: Native Nations
Mythologies and rites of Native Americans fascinated enthographer/photographer Edward Sheriff Curtis. During his journeys in the United States, ... Show synopsis Mythologies and rites of Native Americans fascinated enthographer/photographer Edward Sheriff Curtis. During his journeys in the United States, Canada, and Alaska, from the 1890s through to the 1930s, these aspects of tribal life, recorded extensively on film and in text, played a large part in Curtis's multi-volume publication, The North American Indian. Masquerades, body painting, scarring, and other ritual-related transformations were parts of the cultures of many native nations. Some tribes crafted elaborate masks and costumes to impersonate deities in their highly meaningful ceremonies and celebrations. Two peoples in particular had especially rich masking traditions - the Kwakiutl of British Columbia and the Navaho of tbe American Southwest. In Hidden Faces, striking images of these sacred dramatic displays and the characters depicted have been selected by Curtis expert Christopher Cardozo. Accompanying text, excerpted from Curtis's own writings, explains the role and identity of each image. In many cases, traditional rites had already been lost or were no longer performed by the time of Curtis's arrival. His photographs thus serve a dual purpose, as a record preserving a vivid native religious and cultural tradition and as a powerful artistic expression.