Collections: Arts of the Americas: Dzunuk'wa Cannibal Woman Mask

  • 1st Floor
    Arts of Africa, Steinberg Family Sculpture Garden
  • 2nd Floor
    Arts of Asia and the Islamic World
  • 3rd Floor
    Egyptian Art, European Paintings
  • 4th Floor
    Contemporary Art, Decorative Arts, Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art
  • 5th Floor
    Luce Center for American Art

On View: Statue of Robert Fulton

This imposing statue commemorating Robert Fulton (1765–1815) portrays the famous American engineer and inventor with a model of his bo...

Hiroshige's One Hundred Famous Views of Edo

Hiroshige's 118 woodblock landscape and genre scenes of mid-nineteenth-century Tokyo, is one of the greatest achievements of Japanese art.

    On View: Mask (Lukwakongo)

    Miniature wooden masks constitute some of the most important insignia of the second-highest grade of Bwami. Generally these miniature masks,...


    Want to add this object to a set? Please join the Posse, or log in.


    15.513.1_SL1.jpg 15.513.1_glass_bw.jpg

    Dzunuk'wa Cannibal Woman Mask

    • Culture: Kwakwaka'wakw
    • Medium: Cedar wood, fur (black bear?), hide, pigment, iron nails
    • Place Made: Vancouver Island, Knights Inlet, British Columbia, Canada
    • Dates: 19th century
    • Dimensions: 19 1/2 x 14 x 7 3/4 in. (49.5 x 35.6 x 19.7 cm)  (show scale)
    • Collections:Arts of the Americas
    • Museum Location: This item is not on view
    • Exhibitions:
    • Accession Number: 15.513.1
    • Credit Line: Gift of Herman Stutzer, Esq.
    • Rights Statement: Creative Commons-BY
    • Caption: Kwakwaka'wakw. Dzunuk'wa Cannibal Woman Mask, 19th century. Cedar wood, fur (black bear?), hide, pigment, iron nails, 19 1/2 x 14 x 7 3/4 in. (49.5 x 35.6 x 19.7 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Gift of Herman Stutzer, Esq., 15.513.1. Creative Commons-BY
    • Image: front, 15.513.1_SL1.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph
    • Catalogue Description: The Dzunuk'wa, or Cannibal women is a figure important to those Kwakwaka'wakw people who have an ancestral relationship to the stories involving her. She is a large, cumbersome figure, looking very bear like with shaggy fur over her body. She is clumsy and lumbers through the Northwest Coast cedar forests crying "Hoo Hoo Hoo" through her pursed lips. She is thought to carry a large woven basket with her. Should she discover a child who has disobeyed their parents and entered the woods without an adult she scoops them upinto her basket and takes them to her den to eat them! Thus children are always warned against entering the forests without permission! Her mask is a large, and wooden, painted shiny black with spattered white pigment overall and accents of red pigment and fur. The mouth has a large round opening that is surrounded by prominent red lips. Pursed as if she is crying "hoo hoo." The interior of the eyes and nostrils that are large round holes painted red. Fur, possibly bear, attached with iron nails, surrounds the lips and forms the eyebrows. A previous application of fur on these areas is suggested by the appearance of corroded nails holding down remnants of fur plus extraneous nail holes. Used originally to secure the mask are leather thongs at the eyes, the back surface just below the eyes, and at the chin where they were attached to a leather strap. The ritual dance performed with this mask continues today by an individual who inherits the privilege. On the body of the dancer would be bear like regalia and the dancer mimics the clumsy gait of the real Dzunuk'wa. Some feast dishes have forms similar to those contained in these masks. The object is stable and in fair condition. Along the edges, especially on the lower, proper right side is old insect damage. Long vertical cracks are present in the wood, but appear stable.
    • Record Completeness: Good (75%)
    advanced 110,671 records currently online.

    Separate each tag with a space: painting portrait.

    Or join words together in one tag by using double quotes: "Brooklyn Museum."

    Please review the comment guidelines before posting.

    Before you comment...

    We get a lot of comments, so before you post yours, check to see if your issue is addressed by one of the questions below. Click on a question to see our answer:

    Why are some objects not on view?

    The Museum’s permanent collections are very large and only a fraction of these can be on exhibition at any given time. Sometimes works are lent to other museums for special exhibitions; sometimes they are in the conservation laboratory for study or maintenance. Certain types of objects, such as watercolors, textiles, and photographs, are sensitive to light and begin to fade if they are exposed for too long, so their exhibition time is limited. Finally, as large as the Museum is, there is not enough room to display everything in the collections. In order to present our best works, collections are rotated periodically.

    How do I find out how much an object in the Brooklyn Museum collections is worth?

    The Museum does not disclose the monetary values of objects in its collections.

    Can you tell me the value of an artwork that I own?

    The Museum does not provide monetary appraisals. To determine the value of an object or to find an appraiser, you may contact the Art Dealers Association of America or the American Society of Appraisers.

    I own a similar object. Can you tell me more about it?

    Please submit via e-mail a photograph of the object you own and as much information about it as you can, and we will provide any additional information we are able to find. Please note that research in our files is a lengthy process, and you may not have a response for some time.

    How would I go about lending or gifting a work to the Museum or seeing if the Museum is interested in purchasing a work that I own?

    Please submit via e-mail a photograph of the object you would like us to consider, as well as all of the information you have about it, and your offer will be forwarded to the appropriate curator. The Brooklyn Museum collections are very rich, and we have many works that are not currently on exhibition; because of this, and because storage space is limited, we are very selective about adding works. However, the collection has become what it is today through the generosity of the public, and we continue to be grateful for this generosity, which can still lead to exciting new acquisitions.

    How can I get a reproduction of a work in your collection?

    Please see the Museum’s information on Image Services.

    How can I show my work to someone at the Museum or be considered for an exhibition?

    Please see the Museum’s Artist Submission Guidelines.

    Why do many objects not have photographs and/or complete descriptions?

    The Museum's collection is very large, and we are constantly in the process of adding photographs and descriptions to works that do not currently have them, or replacing photographs that have deteriorated beyond use and descriptions that are minimal or out of date. This is a long and expensive process that takes time.

    How can I find a conservator or get advice on how to treat my artwork?

    Please visit the American Institute for Conservation, which has a feature on how to find a conservator.

    I have a comment or question which is not included in this list.

    Join the posse or log in to work with our collections. Your tags, comments and favorites will display with your attribution.