Artist: Charlie James Returned From: Canadian Museum of Civilization, VII.E.512 Materials: wood, cedar; rubber; fibre, cotton; paint; metal, iron
The sun is the ancestor and crest of a number of Kwakwaka’wakw. The sun lives in the upper world (or the sky) and “walks across the heavens” daily from east to west. As a family crest, the image of the sun is often seen on totem poles—in the early days in front of houses in Alert Bay or today on top of the worlds’ tallest totem pole, which is also located in Alert Bay. Sun dancers use a blanket covered in iridescent abalone shells to suggest the movements of the sun traveling from east to west.This sun mask was carved in typical Kwakwaka’wakw manner, as an anthropomorphic face with a hooked nose. Ten short, scalloped rays emanate from the sides and top of the mask. (Quotation is from: Macnair, Peter L., Alan L. Hoover, and Kevin Neary. 1980The Legacy: Continuing Traditions of Canadian Northwest Coast Indian Art. Victoria: British Columbia Provincial Museum. P 165).