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NORTHWEST COAST BEINGS

BAKWAS
Bakwas, also known as theWild Man of the Woods, is a small human-like creatures that lives in the forest. It can be found lurking near sandy beaches looking for its favourite food, shellfish.

Bakwas is characterized by deep round eyes, a hooked nose and a grimacing mouth.

BEAVER
Beaver appears quite often within Northwest Coast art and is respected as a builder. Beaver insisors, before the introduction of steel blades, were commonly utilized in carving.

Beaver is identifiable by a short snout, short ears, two large incisors and a tail that possesses a cross-hatch design.

BEE
Insect representations are somewhat rare within Northwest Coast Art; however, the image of Bee does occasionally appear. This creature ofren acts as a helper to Shamans, whispering information they have gathered as they travel from flower to flower.

Bee is recognizable by a wide head, bulbous eyes and sharp protruding spikes.

DOGFISH
Dogfish are small, fierce and solitary sharks that Northwest Coast Peoples were very wary of. It is a particularly prevelant motif amongst Haida artists.

Dogfish are recognizable by a large domed forehead, sharp triangular teeth, oval eyes, and a hooked nose.

DZUNUK'WA
Dzunuk'wa is a giant female ogress who is extremely strong and possesses supernatural powers. She stalks her favorite food, human children, in the forests, capturing and consuming those that have wondered off.

Wild Woman is easily identifiable by large, round eyes, thick lips that are puckered as if she were making her "huuuuu" call, out-stretched arms, and black colouration.

EAGLE
Eagle is an extremely prominent figure along the Northwest Coast and is well respected for their strength, intelligence and vision. Eagle feathers are considered sacred and are utilized by Shaman's within their healing practices.

Eagle is recognizable by its thick downturned beak, large ovoid eyes and pronounced talons.

FROG
Frogs are held in high regards due of their ability to move from environment to enviroment (land and water). As a result, they are considered to be extremely knowledgeable and often act as helpers to Shamans.

Large bulbous eyes, a blunt nose, toothless mouth and protruding tongue characterize frogs.

HUMMINGBIRD
Hummingbirds are a rarity within Northwest Coast Art. It is believed that they
are protected by the Wild Woman and take refuge in her hair.

Hummingbirds are recognizable by a relatively small head, large eyes, thin beak and short wings. They occasionally appear in conjunction with flower imagery.

KILLER WHALE
Killer Whales are respected for their dignity and strength and are associated with great wealth.

Killer Whale is identifiable by a large, blunt nose, a tooth-filled mouth, a blowhole, and a large dorsal fin.

KOMOKWA
Komokwa is the Chief of the Undersea Word and associated with great wealth. His house undersea house is constructed entirely of copper (a material of great value) and is guarded by Sea Monsters.

Komokwa is easily recognizable by deep round eyes, broad lips and a crown perched on top of his head. His imagery of other sea creatures are often incorporated into his representations.

MOON
Moon is a common representation within Northwest Coast Art. As a result of the luner cycle it is associated with transformation and often acts as a spirit guide to shamans.

Moon is characterized by a central face, either human or possessing bird-like features, accompanied by an outer decorated ring.

MOSQUITO
Mosquitoes were thought to have once lived at giant humans. A woman, whose child had been killed by one of the insects, wished to revenge his death. The woman lured the Chief of the Mosquitoes into a trap and killed him. The woman burned the creatures body and as the ashes drifted into the air, they became little mosquitoes.

Mosquito Masks are typically utilized to provide comic relief during intense ceremonies. They are recognizable by a long proboscis, which is sometimes lined with teeth.

OCTOPUS
Octopus is common within Shamanic art due to amazing transformational abilities. He is one of Komokwa's servants and oral traditions tell of giant devilfish evouring canoes and entire villages.


Octopus is recognizable by a hook-like beak, tentacles with round marks representing suckers, large eyes and domed head.

OWL
Owl, as a consequence of their nocturnal nature and haunting calls, is often associated with death. They are thought to possess knowledge of the future and great wisdom.

Owl is recognizable by large eyes, prominent ears and a small hooked beak.

RAVEN
Raven is a dynamic character and a prominent fugure within the accounts of the aboriginal people of the Northwest Coast. He is a trickster/transformer that brought light to the universe.

Raven is characterized by a thick blunt beak and folded wings.

RIDICULE
The aim of the Ridicule Mask is to mock a rival and enhance one's own status.

The Ridicule Mask refers to a store involving two prominent Cheifs ata Potlatch. The host Chief displayed his weath by discarding a vast amount ofEulachon Grease in a fire creating a very hot inferno. As a high ranking guest,the host's rival was seated close to the fire. If the rival Chief had moved, it would have been considered an admittance of his inferior status and strength. The rival litterally has half of his face melt in order to maintain his status.

 

         
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