The Chief of the Undersea World

The Chief of the Undersea World

Above: Chief of the Undersea People Mask by Bill Henderson

Symbol: The Chief of the Undersea World

The King of the Undersea, Chief of the Undersea World, Komokwa, Kumugwe, or Copper Maker is a supernatural figure of major importance to Kwakwaka’wakw culture known as the “Wealthy One”. He is a powerful ruler who lives in a great house under the sea made of copper and filled with treasures. He is master and protector of seals and has sea lion outposts at the entrance to the house. Many sea creatures such as killer whales, loons, seals, sea lions, and sculpins are closely associated with him. It is said he is guarded by the Octopus.

He is a Guardian of the sea, responsible for the ebb and flow of the tides, the raising of storms in winter, and the calm seas of summer. He is responsible for the riches deposited onshore by the tides, and for the lives claimed by the sea. He also has the ability to bestow powers onto those whom he favors. Many humans attempt to reach his kingdom, and those who make it are rewarded with wealth and power, returning to their home village with treasures.


King of the Undersea World Mask Pendant by Kevin Cranmer

The Komokwa is frequently depicted in Northwest Coast Art, specifically masks, however the depictions vary widely. Masks may show him with the attributes of sea creatures, with rounded fish eyes, rows of gills or scales, surrounded by fins, tentacles, suction cups, fish, or aquatic birds. As a symbol of his wealth, he is often adorned with copper or abalone.



Chief of the Undersea World with Loon Mask by Carey Newman

See other depictions of The Chief of the Undersea World native symbol.