Returned From: Canadian Museum of Civilization, VII.E.579 Materials: wood, cedar; skin, bear; metal, iron; paint, graphite; paint
The Dzunuk´wa or Woman of the Woods is one of a large family of giants that live in the far away mountains and forests. In most legends Dzunuk´wa is female, although they can be male or female. Black in color, with bushy, unkempt hair, pendulous breasts and a pursed mouth through which she utters the cry, “Hu! Hu!” she is a terrifying and threatening creature. She carries a huge basket on her back in which she puts the children she captures. She takes them to her remote house in the woods where she plans to eat them. The children (or one particular child) always manage to outwit her and escape. Dzunuk´wa appear in both the T’seka Red Cedar Bark Ceremonies and the Tła’sala Peace Dances. In both ceremonies the dancer will appear with a Dzunuk´wa mask and a longhaired full-bodied costume, sometimes carrying a large basket strapped to her back. There are two types of Dzunuk´wa masks, one that is used for dancing called Dzunuk´wamł, “Giant of the Woods Mask,” and a male Gi’k´amł, which is used by the Chiefs to indicate their status and wealth.