Xwi Xwi Mask

Kwakwaka’wakw First Nation UCC -80.01.123 The Xwixwi came to the Kwakwaka’wakw from the Coast Salish of Comox as a gift. After deciding to wage war to acquire the dance and mask, they were invited in as guests of the Comox and freely given the dance and the treasure box of associated gear. The dancer wears the mask of this supernatural being and carries rattles strung of scallop shells and the dance is believed to, “shake the ground and be a certain means of bringing back the Hamat’sa who is being initiated” (Boas 1897: 497). According to the Kwakwaka’wakw, the Xwixwi is the red cod or red snapper. For this reason it has two protruding eyes. When the red cod is pulled out of the water his stomach comes out of his mouth and for this reason the palm of the mask is protruding. When the fish is thrown into the canoe it beats violently with its tail. This is imitated by the scallop shell rattles. It is claimed that the Xwixwi was first seen at Cape Cod and that at the time when the Ligwi’da’xw used to live there.