Object photography

View of the artwork on display in 'Intersections: Native American Art in a New Light'; Peabody Essex Museum; 2006 through 2012.
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Object description

  • Kaigani Haida artist
  • Mask, about 1827
  • Wood, pigment
  • Kasaan, Southeastern Alaska, United States
  • H: 10 1/4 in, W: 7 1/2 in, D: 4 in (H: 26.0 cm, W: 19.0 cm, D: 10.2 cm)
  • Gift of Daniel Cross, 1827
  • E3483
  • Displays a wonderfully expressive face
  • Made for sale during height of Pacific sea-otter fur trade

This mask likely represents Djilakons, mythical ancestress of the Haida Eagle clan. Around 1825, a single master carver sold this and several related works to mariners and missionaries. The mask, never intended for ceremonial use, represents one of the earliest examples of Northwest Coast souvenir art.




East India Marine Society Collection


This carved wooden mask depicts the face of a female with a labret (lip plug) in her lower lip. The wooden mask is oval shaped. Cut holes have been made for the pupil of each eye, as well as both nostrils. Two large black eyebrows arch over each eye. There is crosshatching in blue over her left eye, and crosshatching in red on her right temple/hairline. Geometric patterns of blue decorate the right side of the mask from the forehead to chin. The blue pattern also decorates the entire forehead. Red paint decorates the left side of the mask from the nose down. Red painted designs ring the edge of the mask. The lower lip protrudes depicting the use of a labret. The mouth is open, making rows of carved teeth visible. Some Northwest Coast masks representing women with labrets were ceremonial, but this specific mask and several others likely produced by the same artist were likely made for sale, or as gifts or trade items. This female may depict Djilakons, Haida ancestress who gave birth to the Eagle clan. This was collected in the Kaigani Haida village of Kasaan in Southeastern Alaska, by Captain Daniel Cross.

Exhibition History

  • Uncommon Legacies: Native American Art from the Peabody Essex Museum, Washington State Historical Society; October 11, 2005 through February 09, 2006
  • Shapeshifting: Transformations in Native American Art, Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, MA.; January 14, 2012 through April 29, 2012
  • Gifts of the Spirit: Works by Nineteenth-Century & Contemporary Native American Artists, Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, MA.; November 14, 1996 through May 18, 1997
  • This Noble River: Captain Gray and the Columbia, Columbia River Maritime Museum; May 11, 1992 through November 29, 1992