Oakwood Auctions

Lot 784

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Description: Vincent Shaugnessy's "Dzunukwa (Wild Woman)" original wooden carved mask. Carved in 1999, from the community of Kwakwaka'wakw Nation, Vancouver Island. This mask is black and red, and carved from yellow cedar. Was valued at $5,900 - $6,500 in 2016. This mask is in excellent condition.

Dzunuk'wa is a supernatural being, also called Wild Woman of the Woods. She is a giantess (twice the size of a man), has a black hairy body, pendulous breasts, pursed lips that indicate her cry "uu huu uu" and so deep-set eyes that she see well. Another type of Dzunuk'wa is a chief's Dzunuk'wa called a Gikaml or Chief's mask. These are bit smaller and more finely careved than those used for the Winter Ceremonial.

Dzunukwa in Kwakwaka'wakw mythology- The Dzunuk'wa is a people who dwell inland or live in a mountain. Her house is far in the woods. Generally the Dzunuk'wa who appears in the tales is a female. She is so strong that she can tear down large trees, and her voice is so loud that it makes the roof boards shake. She carries away children in her arms to her house inland, or she puts them into a basket, which she carries on her back. When enticing away children from a house, she assumes the voices of their grandmothers. She is a cannibal and roasts the children whom she steals. She is represented as a building a canoe in the woods, and her infant which never cries stands in a cradle next to her. When she is surprised and her child is pinched so that it cries, she gives supernatural gifts to her visitor. She controls the water of life and can bring back the dead by sprinkling this magic liquis on them. With all her strength, the Dzunuk'wa is stupid. She admires the eyebrows of a girl whom she has captured, and is induces to submit to having her eyebrows cut. When thus in the power of the warrier she is killed.
The Dzunuk'wa in the Myths- Here is a myth about the Dzunuk'wa, as told by Ya'golas ('Namgis), to George Hunt: "A child who cried arose in its house and went out at night. He entered its house. "Why are you afraid?" said its grandmother. "It looks like a big person with a hairy hand. It looks like a big person with hairy hand." "They only tried to frighten you. Go!" she said. Then the child arose and went out. As soon as the child showed its face, it screamed, and it was picked up the Dzunuk'wa in her arms. It was taken down (underground). Then her parents went out and tried to dig after their child. It cries aloud underground. It was taken to the house of Dzunuk'wa. Then the child broke off hemlock branches and threw them down, that it might know the trail if it should escape. Then they arrived at the house of the Dzunuk'wa. Immediately the child was given tallow to eat. The Dzunuk'wa saw the child. "Oh, oh!" she said, "You ear-ornaments are nice. Please lend me your ear-ornaments". "Have you holes in your ears>" said the child to the Dzunuk'wa. "Not I, master. Go on, make hole in my ears" - "What were they driven with?" "With these branches. It was done by my father". The child took a branch. "Lie down on your back. Where is your hammer, that I may drive them in?" Then the child put them on top and drove in. "Go on, master," said the Dzunuk'wa. Then she struck with the hammer again, and the branches went right through the ears of the Dzunuk'wa, and she was nailed to the floor. The floor was very thick. She took four branches, and there were four holes in her ears. Then the Dzunuk'wa was dead. The child pushed her into the fire and burned her. She came back at his house. When her tribe knew that the Dzunuk'wa was dead, they decided to go to the Dzunuk'wa's house, and carried cranberries, crabapples, dried berries and many skins. So the child's father gave a feast to the tribe, distributed the skins among the tribes and, and he became a chief on account of his potlatch to the tribes with the magic treasure that his child had obtained.
The Dzunuk'wa in the Potlatch- In the potlatch, the Dzunuk'wa is known to be less than alert and clumsy: "she appears to be sleeping most of the time. When she enters the house for the Winter Ceremony, she must hold on to a rope stretched between the door and her seat. She makes a circuit around the fire, sometimes having to be guided to the right by an attendant who prevents her from mistakenly lumbering to the left"

  • Dimensions:
    15" x 14" x 9 1/2"
  • Artist Name: Vincent Shaugnessy
  • Medium: Mask

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August 16, 2020 11:00 AM EDT

Stouffville, ON, CA

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