Beau Dick (Kwakwaka’wakw)
Red cedar, acrylic, cedar bark
Closed: 20″ x 17″ x 9.5″
Open: 20″ x 31″ x 9.5″
(Not including cedar bark)
Listen, O Tribe! This house of Born-to-be-Head-of-the-World here has been entered by the supernatural powers. Now come in! (Boas and Hunt 1906:73)
The dancer wearing the transformation mask relates the story of Siwidi, a young man who undergoes a metamorphosis of nature and appearance by his encounters with supernatural sea creatures. In the Kwakiutl legend, Siwidi was accompanied by the undersea’s attendant, killer whales, while launching into a series of adventures.
This mask represents the transformation from Siwidi to the hero of the Born-to-Be-Head-of-the-World. The outer mask is portrayed with a dark green mask-like configuration and a black mustache on a plain wooden ground; while the mask is rigged to be opened by the dancer to reveal the face of the transformed Siwidi upon a bright white background, the Born-to-Be-Head-of-the-World.
Nowadays, it is a considerable indication of high status to contemporary performances of the dance of the undersea kingdom. When the ancestors of the Gwawa’enuxw entered Born-to-be-Head-of-the-World’s supernatural house, they passed through the mouth of a sea lion, which is the doorway to the fantastic masks and hereditary dance privileges that awaited them within.