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  • About the Back Cover

The mask on the back cover of this volume was collected around 1883 by ethnologist and explorer Johan Adrian Jacobsen, likely at Ft. Rupert, for the Berlin Museum. At the time, he identified it merely as a “Large black opening animal mask, a grinning black and white human face,” suggesting that the inner face represented “Masmasmalanix,” a culture hero of the Nuxalk (Bella Coola) people. The anthropologist Franz Boas made his own drawings of this mask (in its open and closed aspects) around 1886, which he took with him on his earliest fieldwork in an attempt to better identify it, though he does not seem to have had much success at this time. Prior to his 1894–1895 winter field trip to Ft. Rupert, Boas requested more detailed, full-color paintings from Albert Grünwedel, a curator and artist at the Berlin Museum. Likely on this trip, Boas recorded on the painting itself a number of notes, suggesting the mask belonged to a H a msh a mt’s a s privilege and depicts a Bear on the outside and Baxwbakwalanuxwsiwi’ on the inside; indicating that the rights to the mask belonged to the “Lō’yalswiwe” (presumably the Loyalaława ’n a ’mima, or kin group) of the Ma’ a mtagila Band (which he claimed to have “corroborated”), while giving the owner’s ceremonial position title; and recording symbolic interpretations of many painted motifs and colors. On the reverse of the painting are song lyrics in Kwak’wala with brief English glosses.

Perhaps around 1895, Boas transferred many of his notes for this object from the research painting to the Berlin museum catalogue card. Here he provided expanded song lyrics in German that translate as: “1. He searches for food in the whole world. 2. He searches for men in the whole world. 3. Consuming the living in the whole world. 4. He nods for cut-off heads in the whole world.”

Boas’s description of the mask in the 1897 report is drawn primarily from his notes on the Grünwedel painting, though he provides a slightly different English gloss on the lyrics and he omits the crucial information regarding ’n a ’mima and Band ownership. In the appendix, Boas provides an interlinear translation of the Kwak’wala song lyrics as well as musical notation for a tune he recorded. This is the only mask illustrated in the 1897 report that has specific colors described for it, and subsequent authors have returned to [End Page 219] this description as indication of Kwakw a k a ’wakw symbolism. Boas states that the animals depicted on H a msh a mt’s a s masks represent “protectors” of the dancer, but this is a vague and ethnographically imprecise term. They more likely represent spirit beings that figured in ancestral encounters resulting in the acquisition of the dance/mask/song privilege itself.

At some point, likely in the early 1920s, George Hunt recorded the following terms in his own personal copy of the 1897 book: “Dałdałagem nen; Hemshemts! esēwe; Ļoyalaława.” Soon after, he added the following notes to his manuscript on the 1897 captions: “Dałałā nen Hemshemts! es Hemεsēεwe open up grizzle Bear eater on forehead mask of the forhead this mask with a man inside of the grizzly Bear is Loεyaεlał the first man of the nememot of the Loεyεlałaεwa of Kwagoł.” This corroborates Boas’s identification of the mask as a Bear H a msh a mt’s a s belonging to a specific Band, although he lists a different Band at Ft. Rupert as being its owner and he identifies the inner, humanoid face as depicting a ’n a ’mima ancestor rather than Baxwbakwalanuxwsiwi’, which is more consistent with other transformation masks of this kind and with the contemporary Kwakwaka’wakw understanding that Baxwbakwalanuxwsiwi’ itself was not generally depicted on masks. Boas accepted these revisions in his 1924 typescript revisions to the 1897 text.

In the 1930s, Hunt returned to this object again, confirming...