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Virtual Musem of Canada
The Story of the Masks
Introductions The Potlatch The Masks Site Index
Click to see the T'seka Animal Masks Click to see the T'seka Mythical Creature Masks Click to see the T'lasala Animal Masks Click to see the T'lasala Mythical Creature Masks
T'lasala Mythical Creature Masks
Yakwiwe' - Peace Dance Frontlet and Ermine Cape
Kulus - Sister to Thunderbird
Kwankwanxwalige' - Thunderbird
Sapagaml - Echo Mask
T'lisalagaml - Sun Mask
'Makwalagaml - Moon Mask

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T'lisalagaml - Sun Mask
isala lives in the upper world (or the sky) and "walks across the heavens" daily from east to west. isala is the ancestor and family crest of some Kwakwaka'wakw. As a family crest, the image of isala would often be seen on the front of houses, or today on the top of the world's tallest totem pole, located in Alert Bay.

Dance and Regalia:
isala dancer uses a blanket covered in iridescent abalone shells to imply the movements of the sun traveling from east to west. The mask is carved as an anthropomorphic face with a hooked nose and ten short rays emanating from the sides and top of the mask.

isala Song of 'Lalaanx'idi, Chief Peter Cook, Ta'sala
We are all going to watch the supernatural one who causes the daylight to break down upon our world, you are truly supernatural. We will watch the one who causes great reflections of light from it's body, the supernatural killer whale, this is a heavy dance right. You will now watch, the great hunter of the seat that has the greatest aim when it strikes, the killer whale, a powerful dance to have, it is treasured.

In one well-known story, mink is the child of isala. Mink was born after the rays of the sun impregnated his mother as they fell upon her back. Mink travels to visit his father, isala in the upper world by climbing a chain of arrows. In the sky family, clouds are the aunts of mink, and, therefore the sisters of isala. Mink's father allows him to wear the abalone blanket and become isala. Mink gets home and does a bad job. In the end his father throws him back down to Earth.

Mask's Story:
This mask originally belonged to Robert Brown of the 'Namgis and was carved by Charlie James. It was surrendered to the Canadian Museum of Civilization in 1922 and was returned to the U'mista Cultural Centre in 1979.
T'lisalagaml - Sun Mask (large version)
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