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Dzunukwa Mask or Gikamhl (Chief's Mask)

ca. 1870

The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art

The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art

Dzunukwa, or Wild Woman of the Woods, is a creature believed to carry off wandering or misbehaving children. She is thought to be larger than human, completely hairy like a bear, nearsighted, often sleepy in the daytime and reclusive. Stories of her presence in the nearby forest are intended to keep small children close to home. This dramatic mask is considered one of the most masterful of all depictions of Dzunukwa. Its highly sculpted features—slanting, slit-shaped eyes set deep within sockets formed by a projecting beak-like nose, heavy overhanging brow and prominent, highly polished cheekbones—convey the convincing impression of a half-animal, half-human creature of the forest. The hollow cheeks and pursed, open mouth evoke her haunting cry.

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Details

  • Title: Dzunukwa Mask or Gikamhl (Chief's Mask)
  • Date Created: ca. 1870
  • Physical Dimensions: w193.8 x h279.4 x d146.05 in (Without hair)
  • Culture: Kwakwaka'wakw (Kwakiutl)
  • Type: Sculpture
  • Rights: From the Estelle and Morton Sosland Collection, From the Estelle and Morton Sosland Collection
  • External Link: The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art
  • Medium: Wood (alder), pigment, human hair and bear hide

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