Dancing Mask For Chiefs

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Specimen Count
1
FROM CARD: "LOAN: CROSSROADS SEP 22 1988. ILLUS.: CROSSROADS OF CONTINENTS CATALOGUE; FIG. 183, P.153. LOAN RETURNED: JAN 21 1993." FROM 19TH OR EARLY 20TH CENTURY EXHIBIT LABEL WITH CARD: "HEAD-DRESS.---HEAD OF WOOD, HOLLOWED OUT UNDERNEATH TO FIT HEAD OF WEARER, AND CARVED AND PAINTED ON EXTERIOR TO REPRESENT HEAD OF FISH, THE EYES, MOUTH, AND SPINES BEING OF COPPER. THE GILLS, FINS, BACKBONE, AND TAIL ARE OF WOOD, CARVED, AND PAINTED. THE BODY IS OF CANVAS, STUFFED WITH DRIED GRASS. WORN IN CEREMONIAL DANCES BY A CHIEF OF INDIANS OF BELLA BELLA. LENGTH OF HEAD, 11 INS. BODY, 20 INS. TAIL, 15 INS. TOTAL, 46 INS. BRITISH COLUMBIA, 1876. 20,573. COLLECTED BY J. G. SWAN." Crossroads of Continents catalogue identifies as a Sculpin headdress or "back mask", which would have been worn by a crouching dancer. "This spectacular mask has the dorsal ridge, fins, and spines of the sculpin joined to a body of muslin stuffed with grass. The sculpin's characteristic features are overlaid with copper, a metal of high value and prestige. Eyes are of iron, and an inlay (probably copper) once shone in the nostrils. Painting in black, trade vermillion, and blue (probably derived from the iron silicate mineral, celadonite) elaborates the carving." IDENTIFIED AS BELLA BELLA MASK REPRESENTING SCULPIN, C. 1860, ON P. 189 IN DOWN FROM THE SHIMMERING SKY BY PETER MACNAIR, VANCOUVER ART GALLERY, 1998.
Record Last Modified
1 Dec 2014
Topic
Ethnology
NMNH - Anthropology Dept.
Donor Name
James G. Swan
Collector
James G. Swan
Length
28cm
51cm
38cm
117cm
See more items in
Anthropology
Place
British Columbia, Canada, North America
Accession Date
1876
Object Type
Mask
Accession Number
004686
USNM Number
E20573-0
Culture
Bella Bella (Heiltsuk)