In the dance of the Animal Kingdom, the owl represents the “Wise One” and in everyday life, it is associated with misfortune. If you hear an owl call your name, it is believed you will soon die. This mask was carved by Chief Seaweed known as Kwaxitola, "Smoky-Top". He was a singer, storyteller, and artist who kept the traditions of the potlatch alive through the years in which it was illegal.
Hiłamas, Ned Alvin Innis, ’Namgis (Alert Bay)
The Owl is one of the characters that appear in both the T´seka Red Cedar Bark Dances and Tła’sala Peace Dances. In the dance of the Animal Kingdom, the owl represents the “Wise One” and the keeper of knowledge. In Kwakwaka’wakw culture, the owl is associated with ill-fortune and is often the harbinger of death. If you hear an owl call your name, this is a calling for you to join the spirits of the dead and it is believed you will soon die. The dancer accentuates the distinctive bulging eyes and fierce expression of the mask with artful, owl-like movements. The dancer moves furtively about the room, seeking his prey with starts and stops. The ceremony that this mask belongs to is uncertain. Its history and original story have been lost. It must have come from a very special family legend or encounter that includes this powerful bird.
Wood, Cedar; Cloth, Cotton; Metal, Nails; Paint
31.0 cm x 23.0 cm
Bird mask carved from one piece of red cedar. The carving is whitewashed and painted overall in black, red and green. The triangle-shaped ears are pointing backwards. The large, bulbous eyes with concentric iris and pupils give this owl a sharp sight. The recurved beak touches the mouth, adding to the mask’s threatening look. A harness of rope is tied through holes drilled in the top and sides of the mask. A piece of white cloth (with a commercially printed pattern), is nailed to the back, along the top and side edges.