A Dzunukwa or wild woman of the woods mask with hands attached to mount, pursed lips painted red, mostly black with white paint details on face and hands
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Wild Woman of the Woods Mask with Hands

In most Dzunuk´wa legends, this giant of the woods is female, black in colour, with messy hair, exposed breasts and a puckered mouth. She is a terrifying and threatening creature who carries a huge basket on her back into which she puts the mischievous children she captures. Although Dzunuk´wa is a giant, she is easily out-witted by children as she is not so smart and very clumsy.


Mask: He’wasa

Hands: Mrs. He’wasa, Awa’etłala (Knight Inlet)

Dzunuk´wa by Pauline Alfred

More Information

The Dzunuk´wa or Woman of the Woods is one of a large family of giants that live in the far away mountains and forests. In most legends Dzunuk´wa is female, although they can be male or female. Black in color, with bushy, unkempt hair, pendulous breasts and a pursed mouth through which she utters the cry, “Hu! Hu!” she is a terrifying and threatening creature. She carries a huge basket on her back in which she puts the children she captures. She takes them to her remote house in the woods where she plans to eat them. The children (or one particular child) always manage to outwit her and escape. Dzunuk´wa appears in both the T´seka Red Cedar Bark Ceremonies and the Tła’sala Peace Dances. In both ceremonies the dancer will appear with a Dzunuk´wa mask and a longhaired full-bodied costume, sometimes carrying a large basket strapped to her back. There are two types of Dzunuk´wa masks, one that is used for dancing called Dzunukwamł, “Giant of the Woods Mask,” and a male Gikamł, which is used by the Chiefs to indicate their status and wealth.

Catalogue Information


Mask: Wood, Cedar; Hide, Bear; Paint; Paint, Graphite; Metal, Iron

Hands: Wood, Cedar; Paint


Mask: 36.0 cm

Hands: 26.0 cm (from middle finger)

Accession Number

Mask: 80.01.149

Hands: 80.01.157 a&b

Physical Description

Mask: painted overall black with graphite admixture, the face mask features crescent-shaped eyes, nostrils, lips and parts of ears. The ears are separate pieces nailed on. The interior of the cheek hollows is painted white, as are the oval hollows above each eyebrow. The outer eye sockets are painted white, as are the horizontal grooves which extend from eye sockets to temples. The eyebrows are defined in black bear pelt, nailed on. There is evidence that there was a mustache and goatee of the same pelt. The back of the mask is covered with black bear pelt, intended to depict the creature's hair. The name Hawes or Hanus is printed on the right eye socket just above the cheek.

Hands: carved from red cedar into the shape of a pair of large human-like hands. Each hand is painted overall with black and has an anthropomorphic face painted within the whitewashed palms. Each hand is carved from a single piece of cedar and the handles are not a separate piece.