Grand Hall tour

The Transformation Mask

Photo: Stephen Alsford; CMC D2004-18410 Hanging on the wall opposite the Spirit of Haida Gwaii is a large transformation mask made by Kwakwaka'wakw artist, Beau Dick.

The mask is shown in the open position, revealing the face of the first human being nestled between the split image of a bird. Painted on the inside panels, above the face, are two supernatural Wolves. When the mask is closed, it turns into Raven.

Transformation masks are physical manifestations of the concept of changing from one state of being to another. They are worn by costumed dancers, who open and close the beaks by pulling on strings attached to the sides of the mask. Because of its enormous size, this mask could not be worn; it was conceived as a sculpture to be hung on a wall.