TITLE: Cherokee Booger
TYPE: face mask
GENERAL REGION: North America
COUNTRY: United States of America
SUBREGION: North Carolina
ETHNICITY: Cherokee
DESCRIPTION: Booger mask
MAKER: Luther “Toby” Hughes, Westville, Oklahoma
CEREMONY: Booger Dance
AGE: 1994
MAIN MATERIAL: cedar wood
OTHER MATERIALS: horsehair; pigment; leather straps

In the Eastern Cherokee Nation, the booger (tsu’nigadu’li) dance forms an important part of the winter celebration to discourage evil spirits from disrupting the coming growing season.  The boogers themselves represent the evil spirits, and they traditionally portrayed grotesque faces seeking to fight, chase women, and create general havoc. Following colonization, the booger dancers focused their misdeeds especially on satirizing the insolence, foolishness, and lust of European colonists toward the Cherokee women.

Booger masks could be made of wood, gourds, or carved wasp nests. This mask was made by Luther “Toby” Hughes, a member of the Keetowah Band who was designated a Living National Treasure in 1994, the same year this mask was made.

For more on Cherokee masked dance, see Frank G. Speck & Leonard Broom, Cherokee Dance and Drama (University of Oklahoma Press 1951).

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TITLE: Cherokee War Mask
TYPE: face mask
GENERAL REGION: North America
COUNTRY: United States of America
SUBREGION: North Carolina
ETHNICITY: Cherokee
DESCRIPTION: War Mask
MAKER: Allen Long (1917-1983), Cherokee, North Carolina
CEREMONY: Snake Mask Dance
FUNCTION: war preparation
AGE: ca. 1970s
MAIN MATERIAL: wood
OTHER MATERIALS: pigment; leather strap

The Snake-Mask Dance was a dance of the Cherokee people, danced with a gourd rattle and leg-rattles made of turtle shells, performed in preparation for war. It represents the warrior’s fearlessness (wearing a poisonous snake on his forehead) and defiance of human enemies, sorcerers, and ghosts. The purpose of the dance was probably to enlist other men into joining a war party. The warrior danced the mask counter-clockwise around a fire with a slow march step. A singer followed, followed in turn by a woman with turtle leg-rattles and other warriors. The warrior then took a position behind the woman, and the singer led the group in song.

For more on Cherokee masked dance, see Frank G. Speck & Leonard Broom, Cherokee Dance and Drama (University of Oklahoma Press 1951).

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TITLE: Cherokee Bear Mask
TYPE: mask
GENERAL REGION: North America
COUNTRY: United States of America
SUBREGION: North Carolina
ETHNICITY: Cherokee
DESCRIPTION: Bear Dance Mask
MAKER: Unknown
CEREMONY: Bear Dance
AGE: ca. 2000
MAIN MATERIAL: dried gourd half
OTHER MATERIALS: pigment

In the Eastern Cherokee Nation, the Bear Dance originally was danced with bear masks like this one, made of wood or a gourd. The dance is a hunting dance intended to summon the black bears for hunting. Today, the Cherokee have largely abandoned the use of masks in this dance.

For more on Cherokee masked dance, see Frank G. Speck & Leonard Broom, Cherokee Dance and Drama (University of Oklahoma Press 1951).

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TITLE: Cherokee Bison Mask
TYPE: face mask
GENERAL REGION: North America
COUNTRY: United States of America
SUBREGION: North Carolina
ETHNICITY: Cherokee
DESCRIPTION: Booger mask in the form of a bison
MAKER: Allen Long (1917-1983), Cherokee, North Carolina
CEREMONY: Booger Dance
AGE: ca. 1970s
MAIN MATERIAL: wood
OTHER MATERIALS: pigment

In the Eastern Cherokee Nation, the booger (tsu’nigadu’li) dance forms an important part of the winter celebration to discourage evil spirits from disrupting the coming growing season. The boogers themselves represent the evil spirits, and they traditionally portrayed grotesque faces seeking to fight, chase women, and create general havoc. Following colonization, the booger dancers focused their misdeeds especially on satirizing the insolence, foolishness, and lust of European colonists toward the Cherokee women.

Booger masks could be made of wood, gourds, or carved wasp nests.  This specific mask was made by a famed carver, Allen Long.

For more on Cherokee masked dance, see Frank G. Speck & Leonard Broom, Cherokee Dance and Drama (University of Oklahoma Press 1951).

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