Beau Dick (Kwakwaka’wakw)
Red cedar, acrylic paint and horse hair
18″ x 13″ x 10″
This creature is associated with healing or resurrection, and holds special meaning for the artist. Beau crafted it after a recent heart attack; in order to symbolize his recovery, he used his hospital pants as the bottom rope to imbue part of himself in the mask. Pookmis is the sea counterpart of Bookwus, known to the Haida as Gagiid, and to the Tlingit as Land Otter. He is sometimes referred to as the Drowned Fisherman/Whaler Spirit. It is said that when a whaler drowns at sea Pookmis swallows their spirit and carries it back to their home village, then blows it back out during the memorial ceremony. Pookmis’ lips are generally shaped to indicate his occupation of sucking up and blowing out souls. His eyes usually look like whirlpools and his skin painted white as a sign of his death or hypothermia. At times, skulls are incorporated into this mask as indicators of death.