yaxwi'we' (Frontlet Headdress)

About this object

History of use

Among the Kwakwa̠ka̠’wakw, a frontlet or forehead mask like this is known as a pak̠iwe’. Its name changes to ya̠x̠wiwe’ (“dancing on the forehead”) when it is part of the full headdress — including a cylindrical crown with sea-lion whiskers at the top and an ermine-skin trailer — that is featured in the T’ła’sa̠la or Peace Dances (also known as the Dluwa̠lax̠a or Returned-from-Heaven Dances).


Used at potlatches in Alert Bay starting in the early spring of 1980. Last used in the Cranmer potlatch celebrating the opening of the U'mista
Cultural Centre, at Alert Bay, November 1st, 1980. Frontlet carved by Beau Dick; inlay, painting and ermine headdress done by Fah Ambers, Basil Ambers Jr. and Richard Sumner.

Physical description

Ermine headdress attached to a wooden frontlet. Frontlet in painted in blue, red and black with a central figure of a humanoid face with protruding, hooked nose encircled by a red-lined ring of abalone. Two faces, one humanoid and mask-like, the other round and black with red lips, sit atop and below the main face. The eyes of all three faces are inlaid with abalone. The frontlet is attached to the front of a circular white fur cap, attached to a long train (90 cm) of white ermine pelts with brown tails sewn onto a length of white fabric backing. A vertical row of brown whiskers protrude from the cap directly behind the top of the frontlet.