ḥuquuma (Mask)

About this object

History of use

Production of ceremonial art had seriously declined, if not ceased among Westcoast (Nuu-chah-nulth) people by the 1950's. Revival of this art tradition occurred during the 1960's (Duffek). Joe David has been instrumental in the rediscovery and redefinition of Westcoast art. He was the first contemporary artist to master the old forms (MacNair et al.).

Cultural context

contemporary art

Iconographic meaning

Bak'was, the Wild Man of the Woods, is a non-human character who lives in the woods. He attracts the spirits of drowned persons to his home. He eats ghost food which he tries to persuade humans to eat as well, thus they would stay in his unreal forest home (Hawthorn).

Physical description

Unpainted mask, except for red along the outer surface of the lips and the inner circle of the eyes. Forehead is rounded and down sloping. Eyes are very deep set. Heavy raised eyebrows meet at the upper nose and extend upwards across the forehead and then down to the temples, and merge with the cheekbones. Narrow, sharply curved nose, hooks under the upper lip. Lips are narrow and flare at the corners and are pursed at the centre. Chin is a square ridge at the bottom front. Horsehair extends in twenty-six bunches from the top back edge of the mask. Two piece leather head strap is tied and nailed on the inside.