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The U'mista Collections

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*Not all masks are on display in the U'mista Gallery.

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Dantsikw Power Boards of Tom Wallace

Dantsikw Power Boards of Tom Wallace

Sisiyutł "Double-Headed Serpent"

The Sisiyutł or Double-Headed Serpent is a powerful spiritual symbol to the Kwakwa̱ka̱'wakw. Possessing supernatural powers, this serpent with a central human face could live on land or sea. To see this creature brought ill luck and to touch it meant death. But to those who were bestowed with its magical protection, it gave gifts of healing abilities and was the helper of warriors and medicine men.

"Kwagu’ł House and Totem Poles", by S.W.A. Gunn (Knowledge from Chiefs Henry Speck and James Aul Sewid)

The Sisiyutł played an important role in the rituals of Winalagalis the war spirit. The Sisiyutł is the warrior spirit’s assistant. It could be ridden or paddled like a canoe; its flesh was impervious to all types of weapons. It could cause death by a single glance; it could cause any enemy who looked upon it to turn to stone with all his joints turned backwards. The Sisiyutł is often a crest used on headdresses of warrior dancers, ceremonial belts, blankets and aprons, ceremonial weapons like bows, feast dishes, dant̕si’kw power boards, and other ceremonial objects.

"Art of the Kwagu’ł Indians", by Audrey Hawthorn

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