ME892.10 | Mask

Anonyme - Anonymous
Northwest Coast
Aboriginal: Haida
1800-1850, 19th century
Red cedar, paint, eagle feathers?, fur, fibre
13.3 x 22.2 x 47 cm
Gift of Dr. George Mercer Dawson
© McCord Museum
Keywords:  Animal (838) , Mask (23)
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Keys to History

It is important to remember that the lives of the First Nations of Canada before the period of contact were not, in the words of the English philosopher Thomas Hobbes, "nasty, brutish and short." Rather, First Nations people had rich and sophisticated cultures. As this image shows, the Haida had an artistic tradition of incredible beauty. This is a ceremonial mask of the Haida First Nation from Haida Gwaii (the Queen Charlotte Islands), dating from the first half of the 19th century. The bird is a puffin, and the mask was worn on the forehead. It was acquired in 1878 by George Mercer Dawson (1849-1901), employed by the Geological Survey of Canada. Dawson was sent to the Queen Charlotte Islands in 1878 to survey and report on the geography and geology of the islands.

  • What

    This is a Haida mask representing a puffin with a red beak and blue-black head.

  • Where

    The mask comes from Skedans, on Haida Gwaii, which Europeans called the Queen Charlotte Islands.

  • When

    The mask was made between 1800 and 1850.

  • Who

    The puffin was a figure that appeared frequently on artifacts used by Haida shamans.