Transformation Mask

Transformation Mask

1870
Culture
Kwakwaka'wakw
mask
wood, string, and paint
Native Arts acquisition funds
1951.228

Kwakwaka'wakw artist, Transformation mask, 1870. Wood, paint, and string; 15 x 12 x 24½ in. Denver Art Museum: Native Arts acquisition fund, 1951.228

This object is currently on view
Dimensions
height: 15 in, 38.1000 cm; width: 12 in, 30.4800 cm; length: 24 1/2 in, 62.23 cm
Department
Native Arts
Collection
Indigenous Arts of North America
This is an excellent example of the transformation mask prevalent in Northwest Coast dances. When presented wide open it reveals a human face, but when the four side pieces are closed it forms the head of an eagle (note the large down-curving beak). A dancer would pull the strings at the appropriate moment to re-enact the story of a clan ancestor transforming from animal to human.
Known Provenance
Fred Harvey Co., Albuquerque, New Mexico, collected about 1900; Mitchell Wilder. Taylor Museum, Fine Arts Center, Colorado Springs, CO, before 1951; Denver Art Museum, 1951.
Exhibition History
  • “Stampede: Animals in Art” — Denver Art Museum, 9/10/2017

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