Four-faced Hamat'sa Mask

Four-faced Hamat'sa Mask

about 1938
Artist
George Walkus, Kwakwaka'wakw, Canadian, about 1890 - about 1950
Work Locations: British Columbia
Active Dates: 1920s - 1930s
Culture
Kwakwaka'wakw
mask
wood, paint, cedar bark, and string
Native Arts acquisition funds
1948.229

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

This object is currently on view
Dimensions
height: 21 in, 53.3400 cm; length: 51 in, 129.5400 cm
Department
Native Arts
Collection
Indigenous Arts of North America
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.
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.
Exhibition History
  • “Stampede: Animals in Art” — Denver Art Museum, 9/10/2017