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Seattle Art Museum (SAM)

Mask of Ḱumugwe’ (Chief of the Sea)

Photo: Paul Macapia

Mask of Ḱumugwe’ (Chief of the Sea)

ca. 1880

Ḱumugwe' is the Chief of the Sea in Kwakwaka'wakw tradition, who rules over all beings in his watery realm. He was associated with supreme wealth--and many sought to obtain supernatural powers from him--having a house made of copper under the sea. In dance performances, the masked Ḱumugwe' dancer slowly moves like a rolling wave. Features on this mask allude to the undersea: scallop edges adorn the edge, seaweed tubes encircle the mouth, and blue curvilinear designs might indicate wave patterns.

Alder, red cedar bark, cloth, paint
19 1/4 x 17 x 6 in. (48.9 x 43.18 x 15.24 cm)
Gift of John H. Hauberg
Provenance: Micheal R. Johnson, Seattle, Washington, until 1970; John H. Hauberg, Seattle, Washington, 1970-1991; Seattle Art Museum, Seattle, Washington
Photo: Paul Macapia
Not currently on view


Exhibition HistoryVancouver, BC, Vancouver Art Gallery, Down from the Shimmering Sky: Masks of the Northwest Coast, June 4, 1998 - May 15, 2000

London, England, Kansas City, Missouri, Sacred Circles: Two Thousand Years of North American Indian Art, 1976-77

Seattle, Washington, Seattle Art Museum, The Box of Daylight, September 15, 1983 - January 8, 1984
Published ReferencesIshikawa, Chiyo et al. Seattle Art Museum Downtown, Seattle, WA: Seattle Art Museum, 2007, illus. p. 38

The Spirit Within: Northwest Coast Native Art from the John H. Hauberg Collection, Seattle Art Museum, 1995, pg. 226

Holm, Bill, Box of Daylight: Northwest Coast Indian Art, Seattle Art Museum, University of Washington Press, 1983, no. 55, p. 46, illus.

Coe, Ralph T., Sacred Circles: Two Thousand Years of North American Indian Art, Arts Council of Great Britain, 1977, no. 252, p. 133, illus.

Seattle Art Museum acknowledges that we are on the traditional homelands of the Duwamish and the customary territories of the Suquamish and Muckleshoot Peoples. As a cultural and educational institution, we honor our ongoing connection to these communities past, present, and future. We also acknowledge the urban Native peoples from many Nations who call Seattle their home.

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