False Face Ceremony (American Indians Ready Reference)
Article abstract: During the False Face Ceremony, certain tribal members don special masks which they believe give them the power to cure disease
The False Face Ceremony refers both to the rite performed by members of the False Face Society during the Midwinter Ceremony and to individual healing practices during which members of the society control sickness with the power of the spirit in the mask and the blowing or rubbing of ashes on the patient’s body. At midwinter, the society comes to the longhouse to enable people to fulfill particular dreams or to renew dreams during a ritual called the Doorkeeper’s Dance.
The False Face Society uses wooden masks with deepset eyes; large, bent noses; arched eyebrows; and wrinkles. The mouths vary, but they are most often “O”-shaped or spoon-shaped (a horizontal figure-eight shape). Often spiny protrusions are carved on the mask. The original “Great False Face” comes from an origin story and is depicted as a hunchback with a bent nose. His name links him to the legend of the test of moving a mountain, in which he engaged with Hawenio, or Creator. The Great False Face is the great trickster figure, although tricksters occur in Iroquois legends with many names and manifestations.
Hawenio, recognizing that Shagodyoweh-gowah (one of the names for the Great False Face) has tremendous power, tells the Great False Face that his job is to rid the earth of...
(The entire section is 307 words.)
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