Four-faced Hamat'sa Mask

about 1938

Object

Artist

George Walkus, Kwakwaka'wakw, Canadian, about 1890 - about 1950
Work Locations: British Columbia
Active Dates: 1920s - 1930s

Culture

Object Info

Object: mask
Currently on view
Object ID: 1948.229

Medium/Technique

wood, paint, cedar bark, and string

Credit

Native Arts acquisition fund

More Info

Dimensions

height: 21 in, 53.3400 cm; length: 51 in, 129.5400 cm

Department

Native Arts

Collection

Native Arts-American Indian

Known Provenance

George Walkus (Kwakwaka'wakw) [about 1890–about 1950], of Bundan Inlet on the mainland across the strait from Vancouver Island, Canada, about 1938; Willie Henderson (Kwakwaka'wakw); Mrs. Mungo Martin (Kwakwaka'wakw), Ft. Rupert, BC, Canada; Edward Malin, University of Colorado, Boulder, during or before 1948; Denver Art Museum, 1948.

Caption

George Walkus (Kwakwaka'wakw), Four-faced Hamat'sa Mask, about 1938. Wood, paint, cedar bark, and string; 21 x 51 in. Denver Art Museum: Native Arts acquisition fund, 1948.229

Extended Info

Wood carving is a highly developed art among Northwest Coast tribes, including the Kwakwaka’wakw. This mask represents a bird-monster called Galokwudzuwis, or “Crooked Beak,” and is worn by a member of the Hamat’sa Society. Above the “crooked beak” is the head of a crane, while two raven heads project from the back of the mask. Although the photograph shows the mask’s graceful lines and bold, traditional colors of red, white, and black, it doesn’t show the complex moving parts that are worked by pulling a series of strings to create sound and movement during the dance.