Kwakwa̱ka̱’wakw Feast Dishes

Part of Northwest Coast Hall.


These large dishes and ladles were used in feasts. The Kwakwaka’wakw hollowed them with adzes and chisels and served the figures with knives. Other Northwest Coast tribes used controlled fires as an aid in hollowing out large feast dishes. The Kwakwaka’wakw obtained a smooth finish by sanding with fine sandstone and shark skin.

A dish or ladle used at a feast was usually carved to represent a supernatural being that had bestowed its protection upon an ancestor of the host. Sometimes this supernatural guardian was thought to be a mythical ancestor of the host. The protection of this supernatural being passed from the ancestor to successive descendents.