Crooked Beak Mask

Kwakwaka’wakw First Nation UCC – 93.02.004 The Hi’hamsam’ represent the fabulous supernatural birds that were servants of Baxbakwalanuksiwe’ “The-Man-Eater-at the-North-End-of the-World”. These birds were the servants of the Man-Eater Baxbakwalanuksiwe’ and their role was to kill people and bring this food to their master. “The-Crooked-Beak- of-Heaven” has an elaborate prominence over the nostrils, often cut out to emphasize a strong curve. These birds are instrumental in the taming of the Hamat’sa or Cannibal-Dancer who is possessed by the Man-Eating-Spirit. In the final stages of the Hama’tsa initiate’s wildness, his servants the Hi’hamsam‘ will appear and dance completing the ceremony of the Hamat’sa. This is the most sacred masked dance of the Kwakwaka’wakw. The privilege of the Hamat’sa and the Hi’hamsam’ came to the Kwakwaka’wakw through marriage and warfare from our northern neighbours, mainly the Awik’inuxw of Rivers Inlet and the Hi’dzakw of Bella Bella; where these dance societies originated.

This project was made possible with the support of the Department of Canadian Heritage through Canadian Culture Online
Native Dance