Spencer Museum of Art The University of Kansas

Welcome to the Spencer Collection

  • Nuu-chah-nulth (Nootka) or Salish peoples
  • mask, late 1800s–1926
  • Where object was made: Washington, United States or Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada
  • wood, leather, Great Blue Heron feathers?, cloth, paint, metal, string, carving
  • Object Height/Width/Length: 32 x 25 x 96 cm
    Object Height/Width/Length: 12 5/8 x 9 13/16 x 37 3/4 in
  • Gift of George W. Reed
  • Not on display
  • 2007.5533.01

The wooden mask is carved to resemble a bird. It has a very long, hinged beak. The head (minus the face) is covered with black cloth that is nailed in place and was once decorated with large grey feathers, though only a few remain. The top of the beak has two black ovoid shapes with red and light blue detail. The face is painted with curving red and light blue lines. There is a black "Y" on the forehead with black dots. The eye shape is carved into the wood and is detailed with black. There is a black cross shape in the center of the face just above the beak. The bottom portion of the beak is covered with black and white chevrons, pointing toward the point of the beak. It is hinged with leather strips and nails.

The beak opens to reveal a four legged animal with a long body, possibly a wolf, painted with vertical stripes in light blue, red and black. A string attaches at the top center of the beak and comes out the back of the beak for the wearer to pull and open or close the beak.

Originally, the cloak was attached around the bottom edge.