Visit the
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

Unlock the card for this item
Bak'was - Wild Man Mask
Bawas is the Wild Man of the Woods, literal translation "man of the ground embodiment". He is small in size and is the Chief of ghosts or spirits, the spiritual embodiment of everything in the forest. He has a green hairy body and skeletal face with prominent cheekbones and a hooked nose that curves to touch his upper lip. He lives in the country of ghosts and is the Chief of Woodsmen and keeper of drowned souls. It is unusual to see a Bawas but be careful if you do because it is said that he will entice you into his world by offering you food. Bawas especially likes to find warriors and hunters and capture them by luring them to eat his cursed food. The food looks appetizing like smoked salmon or berries but is poisoned and when a starving hunter comes along and eats it, he will become one of the Bawas spirits. Bawas eats slugs and snails, but his favourite food is cockles, found only in our area, and dug from the sand on the beach. Generally he is shy and afraid of humans.

Dance and Regalia:
The performer of the Bawas dance wears strips of cedar branches glued or pinned to coveralls. The regalia differs with each tribe or territory. Because the Bawas is shy and generally afraid of humans, the dancer holds his forearm up against the mask. He makes the movements of testing the beach in search of cockles.

Songs:
The owner of this particular song is Bond Sound (different villages and families will have different songs they are passed down through the generations). The words translate to: "It's a scary thing, how they do his dancing, that supernatural power dancer from the woods..."

As told by Elsie Williams: "Everyone is afraid of him for what he has in his hand, he used to have something, I asked him if it was a rock, but he's not sure what it was something hard that he used to throw and hit someone. He's been in the woods and sitting at the foot of the trees. That is where he got his supernatural powers."

Watch the wild man's face, you can see the wild man's face they never see it before We'll see the wild man's face if you didn't see it before We'll see how it looks, his head, the wild man's head, the way he looks You can see the wild man's head how it looks, different from the human people. (Last verse) Because he never comb his hair, they all sticking up, his hair. From Tom (Mackenzie) Willie (Oral history project 1991).

Mask's Story:
This mask was taken from Harry Mountain of the Mamaliliala, by the Department of Indian Affairs during the Potlatch trials in 1922. This mask has been widely illustrated and widely copied by contemporary artists. Documents indicate that it inadvertently became part of Duncan Campbell Scott's private collection, on display in his office until he retired. It then went back into the collection of the Canadian Museum of Civilization. It was returned to the U'mista Cultural Centre in 1979.
Bak'was - Wild Man Mask (large version)
See video about this item
Watch Peggy Svanvik talk about Bak'was.
Watch Peggy Svanvik talk about Bak'was (select player below).

This clip is 1:35 long.
Microsoft Media Player Logo
Click here to go to the download page for Apple's QuickTime Player
Apple Quicktime Logo
Watch Vera Newman talk about Bak'was.
Watch Vera Newman talk about Bak'was (select player below).

This clip is 0:26 long.
Microsoft Media Player Logo
Click here to go to the download page for Apple's QuickTime Player
Apple Quicktime Logo
 
Project Credits