Kwakiutl Ceremonial Mask

The Kwakiutl are one of some 20 diverse communities known collectively as the Kwakwaka’wakw, united by a common language. In Kwakwaka’wakw mythology, animal imagery may indicate a close family association, even common ancestry, which confers supernatural powers and special privileges.

This ceremonial mask, with a killer whale at the top, was collected by George Hunt in 1897. It depicts Kumugwe or Chief of the Sea, an important figure in Kwakiutl mythology, the strongest power in the sea and the embodiment of great wealth.