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Ancestor mask with small eyes, open mouth and elaborate red and green face paint - Donald Ellis Gallery

Ancestor Mask

Central Coast, British Columbia

ca. 1850–70

wood, paint

height: 10 ¼"

Inventory # N3785


acquired by The Audain Art Museum, Whistler, BC


Ex. Collection Pierre and Claude Verite, Paris, France
Alain de Monbrison, Paris, France


Donald Ellis Gallery catalogue, 2012, pl. 1

Related Examples

Macnair, Peter, Joseph, Robert and Grenville, Bruce.  Down From the Shimmering Sky: Masks of the Northwest Coast. Vancouver: Douglas & MacIntyre, 1998, pg. 84, pl. 61 and pg. 91, pl. 69

Carved in the form of a human face, this outstanding mask likely depicts an important ancestor. Small diamond-shapes eyes are set below bold black eyebrows, bulbous nostrils and a wide, slightly opened mouth. Subtle relief carving suggests sunken skin around the eyes and cheekbones as well as nasolabial folds. The entire surface is painted with bluish-green, black and red designs which relate to the elaborate face paintings worn during important social and ceremonial occasions. Superbly carved and painted, the present mask is exemplary of Heiltsuk art.

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