Artist: Tom Alfred Returned From: Canadian Museum of Civilization, VII.E.570 Materials: wood, cedar; root, cedar; paint; metal, iron; fabric; rubber Dimensions:
The Xwixwi dance originated from the Coast Salish Sxwayxwey. Even though the Coast Salish have many spirit dances and songs, the Sxwayxwey is their only masked dance. There are different stories on how this dance was acquired by the Kwakwaka’wakw nearly 150 years ago. In one story, the Xwixwi was part of a dowry from the marriage between the princess of Chief Down-Dancer of the Comox and the Kwagu’ł Chief K’umugwe’ of Kalugwis. The dance is usually performed by four dancers and occurs in units of four, a magico-religious number. The dancers wear the mask and carry rattles of scallop shells (02.05.011, 02.05.014). The dance is believed to shake the ground and be a means of bringing back the Hamaťsa who is being initiated. Distinguishing features of the masks include the protruding eyes and the long, extended flat tongue. Animals, often birds, project from the head.