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Mask of Dzoonokwa

 

Height: 30.000 cm

AOA 1949.Am22.63

Room 26: North America

    Mask of Dzoonokwa

    Kwakwaka'wakw, 19th century AD
    From British Columbia, North America

    A child-eating giant of the forest

    Dzoonokwa is a giant of the forest, or Wild Woman of the Woods. She eats children, stops people from fishing, and encourages war. In one story a young woman comes across a Dzoonokwa catching salmon; she kills her and her family and uses the mother's skull as a bath for her own daughter's ritual empowerment. They were not all evil though; when a Dzoonokwa came across young men she may give them supernatural gifts - a self-paddling canoe, or the water of life.

    Kwakwaka'wakw masks represent her with pursed lips so that the dancer wearing the mask could frighten the crowd with cries of 'Ho, ho'.

    J.C.H. King, First peoples, first contacts: (London, The British Museum Press, 1999)

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