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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'seka Creature Masks
Gikaml - Chief's Dzunuk'wa Mask
Kukwadisilagaml - Listener Mask
Bakwasaml - Wild Man Mask
Dalalagaml - Laugher Mask
Dzunukwaml - Wild Woman Mask
'Nala - Weather
Huxwhukw - Long Beak Cannibal Bird
Galukwaml - Crooked Beak Cannibal Bird
Nulamalagaml - Fool Dancer Mask
Sisiyutl - Sea Serpent

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Kukwadisilagaml - Listener Mask
Kukwadisila or Listener is from Ataim and is a legend about a young boy who was shamed by his father and went into the woods to commit suicide. He decided to seek supernatural power instead of killing himself. On his journey he met many individuals who taught him a great deal about life.

After learning his lessons, the boy returned to his village with the supernatural powers of the Ataim and to this day his story is re-enacted during the Dance of the Forest Spirits.

Ataim privileges were acquired by a young boy, wawaba'las, who was shamed by his father and went into the woods to commit suicide. However, in the woods, he changed his mind and decided to obtain a magic treasure and to seek supernatural powers. It was Grouse, Chief of the Forest Spirits, who led wawaba'las on a supernatural journey through the woods and who introduced the boy to the creatures of the forest. The forty masks and songs of the Ataim series include such imaginative characters as Stump of the Woods, One Side Moss in the Woods, Woman Giving Birth, Thrush, Walking Behind the Mountain Woman and the Kukwadisila. From Sleeper, wawaba'las learned the power of dreams; from Salmon, how to survive; and from Laugher or Woman of the Woods, a gentler side of being human. These masks were a gift to wawaba'las in which he gained an understanding of nature and the sacredness of life. When he returned to his village, he was a new man, powerful with the understanding of birth and death. When wawaba'las first entered the Supernatural house, Kukwadisila was one of the first to greet him as he sought supernatural powers.

Dance and Regalia:
The Ataim or Dance of the Forest Spirits has its origins among the Awiinuxw of Rivers Inlet. It is a complex narrative dance involving as many as forty different characters. The Ataim is a re-enactment of a series of magical events that took place in a forest long ago that led to the mending of a rift between a father and son. Kukwadisila imitates the actions of the other dancers.

Mask's Story:
This mask was originally owned by Sam Charlie. Following the surrender of the potlatch regalia this mask was sent to the National Museum of Man, now the Canadian Museum of Civilization and was returned to the U'mista Cultural Centre in 1979.
Kukwadisilagaml - Listener Mask (large version)
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