Bakwas mask with two coiled snakes atop highly arched eyebrows, brass disks with perforated centres for eyes, a beak-like nose, feather trim
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Bak´was with Snakes

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The Bak´was performer holds his forearm up to hide his masked face from observers. This particular costume includes carved gloves on hands, lizards down the arm, the Sisiyutł as a belt, frogs on the kneecaps, snakes down the legs. The Bak´was mask to the left completes this costume.


K´wamx’udi, Charlie Walkus, ‘Namgis (Alert Bay) and Awik´inuxw (Rivers Inlet)


Xi’xa’niyus, Bob Harris

Catalogue Information


Wood, Cedar; Paint, Graphite; Feather, Turkey; Fibre, Cotton; Metal, Copper; Hair


32.0 cm

Accession Number


Physical Description

Painted Bak´was mask, carved from red cedar. The mask features highly arched eyebrows, brass disks with perforated centres for eyes, a beak-like nose, sharp angular cheeks and a pursed oval mouth painted red with lips that extend along the chin line as far as the ears. On the sides of the Bak´was mask are exaggerated, upwardly pointed ears with painted green ovoid hollows on either side of the forehead near the tips of the ears. Most design elements are painted or outlined in a lustrous black, indicating an admixture of graphite. The creature has a beard of bird feathers, one row of short feathers follows a line just under the lips. A second line, of longer feathers, is set along the underside of the jaw. On top of the mask is a knot of feathers and hair with a padded two-headed snake (not to be confused with a sisiyutl). Both snake heads are carved from red cedar and painted primarily green. The snakes’ body is made of stuffed cotton cloth, so that it flexes when in use. The upper body is painted with red, green and black stripes. The undersides differs, the locomotive scales are painted green on one half, black on the other. Black, blue, grey, red, green.