NORTHWEST COAST BEINGS
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 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.
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 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 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 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.
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.
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.
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 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 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.
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 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, 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 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.
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