Note: measurements do not include the stand. With the stand, the mask is 35 1/2" H.
The Hamatsa secret society is the highest ranked among the Kwakwaka’wakw people. In her book, Kwakiutl Art, Audrey Hawthorn says the following about the figures involved in the Hamatsa dances: “[The society initiation dance] was based upon legends of the bird-monsters who inhabited the sky-world and were eaters of human flesh, terrifying apparitions that searched for human bodies to consume….The chief cannibal spirit was Bakbakwalanooksiwae, whose spirit dominated the Hamatsa novice and all his assistants. He was invisible, but his presence was made known through a weird whistling sound – the winds blowing through millions of mouths in his body. Bakbakwalanooksiwae controlled a large household in the sky, whose members were portrayed in the dances of the Hamatsa society. These included…Kwakwakwalanooksiwae, the cannibal raven; the Hokhokw, a fabulous long-beaked bird-monster; [and] Galokwudzuwis, the ‘crooked beak’ bird monster.”