NKM KP OF-2508
GK No. 16541918
Place: the Nenets Autonomous District, the Bolshezemelskaya tundra
Date: the first half of the XX century (?)
Material: broadcloth, leather, copper alloy, metal
Technique: casting, handmade, stamping
Dimensions: 44.0x27.5 cm
Masks (sevbabts’) of the Nenets shamans (tadibya) were made from a piece of rectangular-shaped cloth without a slit for eyes and mouth. Buttons or beads were sewn instead of eyes, mouth and nose.
The mask acted as a significant object of power, it served as a means of expressing the shaman's inner potential, unity with the spiritual essence and also as a disguise, hiding tadibya’s personality in the world of unfriendly spirits. Putting on a mask, a shaman united with the spirits, temporarily losing his usual state.
Each piece of the shamanic costume, including a mask, played an important role in controlling the spirits. Losing a headdress or even an iron pin from a shaman’s drum means weakening the spirits’ subordination. After a ritual, tadibya was sure to check the integrity of his costume’s parts.