Carved Wooden Eskimo Mask Form Snow Goggles 'I-Gauk'

Carved Wooden Eskimo Mask Form Snow Goggles 'I-Gauk'

1800 to 1900 Inuit

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A Pair of Carved Wooden Eskimo Mask Form Snow Goggles 'I-Gauk'
Western Alaska
19th Century

Size: 13.5cm wide – 5¼ ins wide
Snow blindness is an occupational hazard of arctic travellers, especially during the spring, and results from the retina becoming burned by excessive ultraviolet radiation reflected from snow covered landscapes. The Eskimo hunter wears snow goggles nearly continuously while travelling even on overcast days as they protect his eyes from blowing snow as well as from the glare off the snow. The goggles afford him protection from the painful and debilitating condition of blindness that can strike without warning, by cutting down the amount of light entering the eye. These goggles also have a mask-like appearance as they carry the image of a protective animal to shield the hunter and give him confidence in dealing with the unknown ahead.
Provenance: Ex English Private collection

Medium
wood and paint
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