Native American, Pacific Northwest Coast, Northern Washington state to Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Makah or Nootka (Nuu-chah-nulth) tribe, ca. early 20th century CE. A large and lovely mask made from hand-carved cedar wood and painted with deep earthtone hues. The face has a notable angled profile with an aquiline nose, flared nostrils, diamond-shaped eyes with pierced pupils, large lips with a horizonal upper cleft, a wide mouth with two rows of bared teeth, and a pointed brow with a trifurcated crest as well as abstract geometric motifs in dark-blue, red, and white pigments. This mask was worn as a part of the "Tluukwanna," or "Four Sacred Wolves" ceremony undertaken by novices of the Nootka Wolf Society. Two small perforations allow for suspension from an accompanying string, and the verso of the mask has been carved out for wear. Custom museum-quality display stand included. Size: 9" W x 12" H (22.9 cm x 30.5 cm); 15.75" H (40 cm) on included custom stand.
The Tluukwanna (Lokwa'na'), or Nootka "Four Sacred Wolves" ritual, is one steeped in tradition but was barely understood by outsiders until the beginning of the 20th century. Edward Sapir, Canada's first professional anthropologist, succinctly explains how, "The wolf ritual may be briefly described as a dramatic performance representing the capture of novices by the wolves, their recapture from the wolves, the exorcism of wolf spirits that they bring back with them, and the performances of dances that the novices are supposed to have been taught by the wolves. The exact details of the course of the ritual differ according to the tribe and family traditions of the Lokwa'nap' or giver of the Lokwa'na'." (Sapir, Edward. "Some Aspects of Nootka Language and Culture." American Anthropologist, vol. 13, no. 1, 1911, p. 20. JSTOR, JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/659806)
Provenance: private Newport Beach, California, USA collection; ex-Doris Johnnie estate, Port Alberni, British Columbia, Canada
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