Maskette Inuit Wood, 4” Diameter c.1880-1900 This small form at first appears, in size and design, to be a seal net float plug, yet it is hollowed completely like a tiny mask, with “eye holes” and tying punctures in the typical locations. It is smaller, however, than might have been used by a small child, with an indistinct form, vaguely zoomorphic. Could the “eyes” in fact have been guide holes for rope lines, allowing it to be lashed to another piece, now lost, or forming a lid onto some unknown receptacle or net hole? It is also possible that this piece is fragmentary, having one or more component parts whose absence prevents a clear understanding of the utility of the group. This piece might also simply be ornamental, although such an interpretation is unsupported by comparison to typical pieces. Delightfully frustrated by attempts to understand how such works may have functioned, we often find ourselves guessing, only to realize that is most likely that all of these interpretations are equally wrong and correct, in that most objects of utility are decoratively carved, and vice versa. Little in the arctic universe can be said to have only one meaning, or to embody a single purpose or form. While its use is unknown, it is possible that this mask would have been a shaman’s communication mask, rather than a dance mask, which are more specific in their design and purpose. Shaman’s masks often were used to perform incantations during healing practices, thus the mouth opening is large and in the correct position. This mask was probably modeled on the face of the particular user, perhaps even carved by the shaman himself.