The Crooked Beak Mask of the Kwakwaka'wakw
The Crooked Beak mask was hand carved by First Nations artist Ross Henderson from Alert Bay, BC. Inspired by Willie Seaweed, Ross has carved many different sets of the Hamat'sa masks. Ross began carving at a young age and has been carving on and off for about twenty years. Currently, Ross lives in Fort Rupert and carves paddles, plaques, and masks.
The Crooked Beak mask, or Galugadza'yi (Galuxwadzuwus), is part of a set of masks used in the dance of the Hamat'sa. The other three masks are called Huxhugwaxtawe (the Splitter of Skulls), Gwaxwgwakwalanuksiwe (Plucker of Eyes), and Hamasiwe’ (Eater of Foreheads). This set of masks is used in one of the dances of the Hamat’sa (Cannibal Dance). Galugadza'yi is known as the “greater” Crooked Beak of Heaven, and works together with Hamasiwe’, who is also known as the Smallest of Servants. The four birds are cannibal birds; they guard the four corners of the world and are servants of the cannibal of the north end of the world, Baxwbakwalanuksiwe.
The masks are used as part of an initiation ceremony into the Hamatsa (cannibal) society, which is the most prestigious society of the Kwakwaka’wakw. These traditional ceremonies are part of Kwakwaka’wakw culture, which is thriving on Vancouver Island.