Beau Dick (Kwakwaka’wakw)
Red cedar, acrylic, horsehair, bear fur
15” x 11” x 11” (38 x 28 x 28 cm)
The Noohmahl are non-human creatures who act as police during one of the most respected Kwakiutl ceremonies, known as the Hamatsa Dance. The Hamatsa Dancers are mythological cannibal creatures from the Skyworld who come to Earth to devour humans. During the dances the Noohmahl keep order by pushing people out of the way of the dancers and by throwing objects at spectators who are noisy or disruptive. They also run errands for the dancers.
Although an important character to the Hamatsa, the Noohmahl is portrayed as a Fool. He is characterized by his huge nose and tattered, filthy clothing. The Noohmahl hates anything calm, clean, or attractive and any comments concerning his nose, smell, or mucus (which often falls from his huge nose) drive Noohmahl into a frenzy. He runs the floor of the long house trying to break things in his way. Should Noohmahl break anything during the Hamatsa it is the responsibility of the host to replace the object or compensate the owner with a gift.