A large whale mask, black green and white painted markings with articulating mouth, fins and tail.
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Catalogue Information


Owned by Alex Currie until its forced surrender to Indian Agent William Halliday on March 25, 1922. Halliday later displayed and photographed the seized pieces at the Parish Hall in Alert Bay.

George Heye, a private collector and the founder of the Museum of the American Indian (now the National Museum of the American Indian), was on a buying trip. He obtained 35 of the seized artefacts. The photographs were taken before he secured them. Halliday sold this object to Heye before listing and crating the remainder of the collection for shipping to Edward Sapir at the National Museum of Man (now the Canadian Museum of History). It appears on the “List of Potlatch Material Sold to Mr. Heye,” certified correct by Halliday. It became part of the MAI collection in 1924. It was repatriated to the U’mista and Nuyumbalees cultural societies and was returned from the NMAI with a first batch of items in 1993.


Wood; Paint; Metal; Fibre


35.5 cm x 129.5 cm

Accession Number


Physical Description

Articulated whale mask with broad lips and a crested snout. The hinged lower jaw, the side fins and tail fin are manipulated by a series of pullies attached with cotton twine. A humanoid face on the flat tail is painted black and red on a white background. Black, green, red and white painted details.