| Look at the mask when it is closed. What
features help identify the raven? What kinds of lines and shapes are
used to define his features? Where do you see geometric
forms? Where do you see organic forms? How
do the colors help emphasize the bird's features? What human features
do you see?
Transformation Mask, closed
|| Look at the open mask. How can you tell
which animal is the serpent? Where is the serpent's body? Where is
its head? How has Richard Hunt represented the serpent's scales? What
shapes did he use?
Transformation Mask, open
| This mask is called a "transformation
mask." Why do you think it is called this? In what ways do you think
the mask "transforms?" In what way is the dancer transformed when
wearing the mask?
In what ways does this mask reflect the natural environment of
the Northwest Coast Indians? How does it reflect the mythology or
religious beliefs of the people? Based on this mask, what kind of
relationship do you think the Northwest Coast Indians have with
animals? With the environment?
In what way is this mask a reflection of the inner world of the
artist? What does this mask tell you about Kwakiutl relationships
with the inner, spiritual world? In what way are beliefs about the
world a part of a person's "inner world?"
| ART ACTIVITY
A group of Kwakiutl people who share the same ancestors are identified
by their family crest. Crests or symbols which
identify family groups exist in other cultures as well. Design a crest
for your family. In what way does this crest identify your family?
LANGUAGE ARTS ACTIVITY
Beliefs about the world are an important part of our "inner worlds."
Have you ever had an experience that changed the way you look at the
world? What events or people have helped shape how you behave and
what you believe? Write a story about an inner transformation that
changed the way you look at the world.
One of the purposes of this mask is to recreate traditional Kwakiutl
myths. Two traditional images of animals are used on the mask: Raven
and Sisuitl, the serpent. There are many stories about Raven. Read
Kwakiutl stories about Raven to learn more about his important place
in Kwakiutl mythology.
The Northwest Coast style of decoration uses simplified, abstract
shapes to depict animal and human forms. This mask also uses symmetry.
Find the lines of symmetry in both the open and closed mask. How did
Richard Hunt use patterns and shapes to create the symmetry?
Pick two or three simple organic or geometric shapes and draw
a symmetrical animal using only these shapes (a photograph of the
animal would be helpful). Pay close attention to the size of body
parts of the animal. Vary the size of your shapes accordingly. Try
rotating the shapes--some might appear upside-down or sideways.
Will you use mostly geometric or organic shapes to draw your animal?
Will you use angular or curved shapes? Which seems to best capture
the spirit of the animal? Try using the ovoid and the U-form, or
create your own pattern.
Although Richard Hunt uses modern commercial paints, traditional Kwakiutl
artists made their own paint out of natural materials. Experiment
with the pigments in different natural materials. Find a natural material
for each of the primary colors (red, blue, yellow) and black. What
materials are best for drawing fine lines on paper? What might work
well for painting? Which materials dry quickly and evenly? Do the
materials stay fixed to the paper or do they crumble and fall off
the paper? What might you add or do to the material to make it more
useful for drawing or painting? (HINT: Try mixing materials with water
or vegetable oil, or soak, boil, blend or dry plants and flowers to
release pigments. How might you combine materials to create new colors?
(HINT: Try drying and grinding materials; powders can be added to
water). Keep a log with samples of materials and record the results
of your findings.
SOCIAL STUDIES ACTIVITY
From 1884 to 1951 the Canadian government banned the potlatch
ceremony. What kind of effect do you think this had on Kwakiutl traditions?
Why do you think the government imposed the ban? Do you think it was
fair? How did the traditions survive? What have the people done to
revive the traditions? What other government restrictions throughout
history have had similar effects? (See An
Apology to the Aboriginal Peoples of Canada.)
that looks as if it contains little or no recognizable or realistic
forms from the physical world. Focus on formal elements such as
colors, lines, or shapes. Artists often "abstract" objects by changing,
simplifying, or exaggerating what they see.
symbol representing families or clans, groups of people who share
the same ansestors.
potlatch--An important ceremony
of the Northwest Coast Indians in which the person hosting the potlatch
gives away his or her possessions. It is a way for people to share
their wealth with the community, to strengthen their leadership,
and to earn the respect of others.
Caduto, Michael and Joseph Bruchnac. Keepers of the Earth.
Golden, Colorado: Fulcrum Publishing, 1989. Emphasis on interdisciplinary
approach to teaching about the Earth and Native American cultures,
featuring a collection of Native American stories.
McDermott, G. Raven: A Trickster Tale from the Pacific
Northwest. New York: Harcourt Brace and Co., 1993. A Caldecott
winner that tells a traditional Northwest Coast Indian tale of the
Halpern, I. Indian Music of the Pacific Northwest Coast.
(Ethnic Folkways Library) New York: Folkways Records, 1967. Available
through Smithsonian Institution Folkways.
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