Title: Dzunukwa Mask
Date: 19th century
Culture: Kwakwaka'wakw (Kwakiutl)
Medium: wood with pigment, human hair, bear fur, seal skin, raffia, cloth, and metal nails
13 x 11 3/4 x 6 in. (33 x 29.8 x 15.2 cm)
Credit Line: Gift of Morton D. May
Object Number: 269:1982
Place associated: Alert Bay, British Columbia, Canada
Current Location: On View, Gallery 326
The deep-set eyes, bright red pursed lips, and contrasting black painted face give this mask a sense of power. These features, including the attached human hair and animal fur, support the interpretation of this mask as Dzunukwa, or “The Wild Woman of the Woods” for the Kwakwaka’wakw of British Columbia. The range of Dzunukwa’s supernatural powers allows her to both kidnap and eat children or bestow good fortune. The mask is also interpreted as related to Kwakwaka’wakw chiefly regalia. Masks such as these are worn by the chief or high-ranking individuals to affirm longstanding ancestral heritage.
- 1967
Lucy Brown, Alert Bay, British Columbia, Canada, by inheritance [1]

1967 - 1982
Morton D. May, St. Louis, MO, USA, purchased from Lucy Brown, through agent James Economos [2]

1982 -
Saint Louis Art Museum, given by Morton D. May [3]

[1] An invoice dated June 23, 1967 notes payment to Lucy Brown at Alert Bay, BC. The invoice describes the mask as "one Tsonquo mask / Kwakiutl, ca. 1850", and notes "The mask has belong [sic] to our family for over [a] hundred years." A note on the accession record states "[The mask] was formerly the property of her grandfather, a Kwakiutl chieftain" [SLAM document files].

[2] See Note [1]. In an email dated July 26, 2008, James Economos writes: "I collected the Tsonoqua mask directly from Lucy Brown in Alert Bay in 1967 when I was acquiring objects for our upcoming Northwest Coast show at the May company, Los Angeles" [SLAM document files].

[3] A letter dated November 29, 1982 from Morton D. May to James D. Burke, director of the Saint Louis Art Museum, includes the offer of this object as part of a larger donation [Director's Office, Donor Files, Archives, Saint Louis Art Museum]. Minutes of the Acquisitions and Loans Committee of the Board of Trustees, Saint Louis Art Museum, December 17, 1982.
Exhibition History
Title: Made in America: Ten Centuries of American Art
Date: February 5, 1995 - October 6, 1996
Venue: Carnegie Museum of Art
Venue: Minneapolis Institute of Arts
Venue: The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art
Venue: Toledo Museum of Art
Venue: Saint Louis Art Museum
Title: Masks: Faces of Culture
Date: October 9, 1999 - September 17, 2000
Venue: Museum of Fine Arts, Houston
Venue: The Field Museum
Venue: Saint Louis Art Museum
Publication History
Title: Pacific Northwest Native American Art in Museums and Private Collections
Author: Robin Wright
Author: Bill Holm
Title: Native North American Art
Periodical Title: The Saint Louis Art Museum Bulletin
Author: Janet Catherine Berlo
Author: John W. Nunley
Publisher: Saint Louis Art Museum
Title: Masks: Faces of Culture
Year Published: 1999
Title: Saint Louis Art Museum: Handbook of the Collection
Editor: Mary Ann Steiner
Publisher: Saint Louis Art Museum
Title: Made in America: Ten Centuries of American Art
Author: Jeremy Strick
Editor: Kathryn C. Johnson
Publisher: Saint Louis Art Museum
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