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Northwest Coast "Grey-Haired Giant" Dzunukwa Mask

This is a Northwest coast ethnographic mask by famous Kwakwaka’wakw First Nation (Kawkiutl) carver Jack James. James' exact date of birth is unknown, with some sources claiming around 1901 and others claiming 1915, and he passed away in 1980. This mask was likely made in the 1960s or 70s, at the peak of his career as a carver. James was born and lived on Gilford Isle, British Columbia, the ancestral land of the Kwicksutaineuk nation of the Kwakwaka'wakw, and was part of the first few generations to re-inhabit the island after the community was destroyed by the Nuxalk in 1856. This mask, like most of his others, is ethnographic in form and subject, carved from white cedar, inlaid with abalone eyes, and painted with commercial paints. The mask depicts Dzunukwa, the "Wild Woman of the Woods," a bringer of wealth who is also known as a giant or ogress who steals children. Her red lips are pursed, suggesting the "Hu!" sound she makes, and children are told the sound of the wind blowing through the cedars is Dzunukwa calling them. Her eyes are wide-set, her cheeks are sunken, and her hair is bedraggled. The mask measures 11" height and is in excellent, original condition. It is signed in pencil on the inside of the mask "J James Grey Haired Giant." James mentored his grandson, Joe Peters, another famous Kwakwaka'wakw carver who passed away in 1994.



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