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Framed Art Card - Eagle Down Dancer 9" x 12"

Artist: Andy Everson

There are very few things that can compare to dancing in a traditional style. It gives you a profound rush to come out from behind the dance screen as the singers strike up an ancient song. The crack of the drum log blends effortlessly with the bass of the skin drum to guide your feet in orchestrated rhythm. Trancelike, your body carries out movements that have been done since the dawn of time.

Amongst the Kwakwaka’wakw people, the major dance order outside of our winter ceremonials is the Dłuwalaxa or Tła’sala. These dances have been primarily obtained through intermarriage with the northern tribes of the coast. Characteristic of the Tła’sala, or “peace dance,” is the Yaxwi’we’ headdress. It is a sublime manifestation of valuable items on the coast: a long white ermine train, intricately carved frontlet festooned with abalone shells and a crown of long sea lion whiskers. Gently placed in the top of the Yaxwi’we’ is a generous handful of eagle down. When danced, the Yaxwi’we’ releases its bounty to spread a peaceful blessing throughout the house.

One of my favourite names amongst the K’omoks people is Ḵa̱mxwalał. Translated, it means “Eagle Down Dancer.” I envision Ḵa̱mxwalał dancing on the beach in front of our K’omoks village. With graceful movement, the eagle down spirals up into the sky to spread peace throughout the territory.

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