niijaang.uu (Raven Transformation Mask)

About this object


This mask was acquired by MOA with the understanding that the artist would be able to borrow it back, when possible, for use in dances and ceremonies. Under this agreement, the mask has been loaned back and/or used by the artist or his designate in numerous ceremonies and potlatches. The mask was danced by Jim Hart at a private event/pole raising in False Creek, Vancouver, in September 1994, and it was also danced by Jim Hart at the Museum in July 1995. The mask was borrowed by Hart and danced by Simon Dick at Hart's potlatch in Massett, on August 28, 1999; and again at a Haida Nation press conference in Vancouver launching the Haida's title lawsuit over Haida Gwaii on March 4, 2002. The mask was sent to Haida Gwaii for use in a potlatch the summer of 2006, but apparently was not danced. The mask was danced at the closing celebration of the "Raven Travelling" exhibition at the Vancouver Art Gallery in 2006, and again, by his son, at the formal inauguration of his large wooden dance screen at the Audain Museum in Whistler in 2018.

Cultural context

performance; contemporary art

Physical description

Raven transformation mask. Exterior left and exterior right sides are identical, each carved from one piece of wood.Carved and painted black, except for eye background, a circle on the beak, and rectangle block between the bills. Black feathers above eyes and to back of mask; black velvet cloth is nailed at base of beak and at back of mask. Interior: raven beak is hinged to either side of a raven in human form mask. Ten tufts of hair held by wooden pegs at top rim; three split u forms, in red and black, on forehead; black brows. Eye area on right side is painted red, including part of nose and cheek; on left side, two vertical and horizontal lines pass through the eye, onto the nose, and down the cheek. Nose curves into open red mouth, with protruding lips; small metal cylinder in lower lip. Outer raven beak is slightly concave, painted in black and red with much of the natural wood visible; large ovoid eye near human face, with split u forms extending to wing tips at end of upper beak. Lower beak has hand design at end.