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Cherokee Booger Dance mask
ca. 1910
North Carolina
Gourd, fox fur, cordage
29 x 17 x 17 cm
Exchanged from John White

Dances were and still are an integral part of Cherokee social and ceremonial life. In the Booger Dance, men wearing ragged clothing and masks interrupted an evening of social dancing. When asked who they were and what they came for, the boisterous intruders gave outlandish names and tried to start fights. Each intruder then performed a solo, often ribald, dance. As the Cherokee believed that illness and death emanated from beyond their settlements, the intruders are thought to have represented outside forces—specifically, European-Americans who encroached on Cherokee homelands and disrupted tribal lifeways. As seen here, Booger masks, made from gourds or wood with fur trimmings, exaggerate human features.

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