The Xwixwi dance originated from the only masked dance of the Coast Salish – the Sxwayxwey. This dance came to the Kwakwaka’wakw through war or marriage. The Kwakwaka’wakw believe the Xwixwi is the Red Snapper (locally called Red Cod) which is why the Xwixwi masks usually have large bulging eyes and a long tongue.
T´saxt´sagisa, Moos Moos Tom, ’Namgis (Alert Bay)
Wood, Cedar; Paint; Fibre, Cotton; Root; Fibre, Plant; Metal, Iron
Xwixwi mask carved from red cedar in several pieces featuring an angular corolla design decorated with black design elements incorporating circles and stacked crescent shapes. The resultant negative space is painted white. There are similar designs above the eyebrows comprised of a circle and a stack of U-forms, the centres of which are white. At top centre is an inverted red U-form with two concentric black lines in an ovoid-like shape. There are two projecting animal forms at the top of the mask. Square-cut holes near the bottom of the mask indicate that there were probably two more similar heads. The framework in the back is drilled with many holes to accommodate feathers, wands, etc. The mask is rigged with loops of twisted root, rope and strips of cloth. The twisted root is threaded through holes in the mask. The carving is painted black, red, green and white.