Oakwood Auctions

Lot 782

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Description: Thomas Bruce's "Grouse" original wooden carved mask. Carved in 2016, from the community of Kwakwaka'wakw Nation, Vancouver Island. This mask is red, black, white, and orange and made of yellow cedar. Was valued between $2,800 - $3,000 in 2016.. This mask is in excellent condition. The distinguish feature of the Grouse is the upset eyebrows, a hooked, beaklike nose and pursed lips as if calling. And the Grouse masks all have their cedar bark hair gathered into an upright knot decorated with feathers.

Grouse in the Kwakwaka'wakw Mythology- Grouse is the chief of the Atlak'am (dance of the forest spirits) series and is called Xamsalilala. The atlakam beings are the spirit of the woods. He is an excellent carpenter and canoe builder and he is one of those sent to make the artifical whale when the myth people intend to make war on the Thunderbird. Grouse is also the first one to make a hunting canoe and hunting paddles, which were given to him by one of the ancestors of the Kwagu'l.
Grouse in the Myths- A llong account in Franz Boas's studies describes in detail the mythical background and the form of a dramatic masked dance called Atlakam. The story is typical of Kwakwaka'wakw accounts of the acquisition of dances privileges. A young 'Nakwaxda'xw man, shamed by his father, one day slipped away from his village and walked far into the gloomy mountains planning to commit suicide. He decided instead to purify himself and seek supernatural power. As he traveled northward along the valley he bathed each morning and night for four nights. The he dreamed of a supernatural person who instructed him to purify himself. When he was finally ready he was calle into a great dance house, whose entrance was under the moss. From the supernatural beings in the house he received the dance Atlakam, with its forty masks, its songs, and the house itself. Then the house and all its contents were magically transported to the village of his mother's people, the Awikinuxw, who learned the ceremony by listening to the spirits inside the house as they sang and danced.
Grouse in the Potlatch- In the longest version of the Atlakam, there are forty masks, representing the kind of creatures, most of them in humanoid form. Grouse calls each of the 40 masks and dancers, one by one. Some of the more unusual are "One-Side-Moss-in-Woods" (a face with moss on one side), "One-Side-Rock-in-Woods" (a face with rock on one side), and "Door-Kepper-of-the-Woods" (a large rectangular panel with a human fance in the center). In the Atlakam dances, a part of the 'Tseka dances, Grouse is the first to appear, and then he calls the dancers out of the sacred room of hemlock boughs and cedar bark. His dress is of dyed cedar bark, mixed with ferns, salal, hemlock, and other leaves. He carries a rattle in one hand which he vibrates constantly as he dances. The part of Grouse demands a strong dancer to keep up the rapid, jumping movements, the continual ratting and jerky posturing of the mask, which he repeats for the entrance of each dancer. At last, the great crooked-beak-mask and the Huxwhukw can be used interchangeably for the Hamatsa (cannibal dances) and the Atlakam: The Huxwhukw and the crooked-beak masks add a spectacularly dramatic bit of action to the Atlakam. While the other masks enter from the sacred room, the Hamatsa mask dancers jump down from high in the house on a series of platforms beside the front door. The masks are difficult enough to wear on the floor; jumping down tfrom the high platforms is many times harder and the chances for the dancer to lose his balance and fall with the heavy mask are great.

  • Dimensions:
    9" x 6" x 9"
  • Artist Name: Thomas Bruce
  • Medium: Wood

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August 16, 2020 11:00 AM EDT

Stouffville, ON, CA

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