Transformation Mask

About this object


Purchased from Native family of Alert Bay by the owner of the Muse Antique Galleries, through the intermediary services of Chief William Scow. Used until recently in the ceremonials of the Alert Bay families.

Iconographic meaning

Represents Raven, man, depicting origin myth in which Raven became a human.

Physical description

Carved, wooden, raven and human transformation mask. The exterior consists of a long black beak, red mouth and stylized nose. The beak and sides are hinged with pieces of fibre and leather, nailed to all sides. The eyes are white, outlined in black on a white background surrounded by a green ovoid; brow is black. Nailed to the top of the head are numerous broken raven feathers. Another figure is painted underneath the mouth. The mask opens in three directions to expose a painted human face with cutout nostrils and mouth. The three open boards are detailed with ovoids, s-shapes, U’s and split U’s. The back is partially hollowed. There is an attached twine cord that assisted the beak in opening and shutting. The mask is painted black, red, white and green with Northwest Coast stylized designs. There is a large metal ring nailed into the top of the head, probably for display purposes.