Private New Mexico Collection
Acquired by present owner from the above
The sun mask is one of the most iconic images in American Indian art, ranking along side the feather headdress of the Plains Indians. It's likely that this mask was used by the Dluwalakha, one of the four dancing societies of the Kwakiutl.
For a comparable mask and discussion of sun masks please see Audrey Hawthorn, Kwakiutl Art, University of Washington Press, Seattle and London, 1979. p. 27: "The sun (Pl. XXIII; Figs. 425-28) is shown as a round, humanlike face, usually surrounded by a halo or a fringe of pointed pieces of wood denoting rays. A bird beak, usually like that of the hawk, juts from the face. Copper is often employed on the sun's face, which may be painted white, with orange or red rays."
Ibid. P. 49
"...Dluwalakha dancers wore masks representing the family crest myth and family dloogwi, which were supernatural in origin, but the dancers were not supernaturally possessed in the same way as the Hamatsa, Winalagilis, and Atlakim dancers. The supernatural gift passed on to the novice was of a simpler sort, often being the dance or other mimetic action, and the novice did not have a lengthy disappearance or an elaborate seizure.
The Dluwalakha dancing masks represented such mythological ancestors as Komokwa, Thunderbird Kolus, and others. They also illustrated legends involving such characters as the sun, the moon, echo, and other elements of nature. A great number of them referred to the animals, birds, and local features of the landscape that played a role in the recounting and re-enactment of family myth."
Ibid., p. 211
"The Kwakiutl incorporated natural elements - earthquake, sun, moon, echo, and others - into their Dluwalakha and family crest dances."
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