Calvin Hunt carved this large Moon Mask in red cedar and painted the formlines with red, green, and black acrylic.
This mask measures 38 inches or 97 centimeters across and 6 1/2 inches or close to 17 centimeters deep. Copper ovoids are inlaid in the Moon’s eyes. Calvin’s daughter, Ali Hunt, created the twined cedar bark to adorn the rim.
Calvin Hunt’s large Moon Mask is mounted on a circular cedar rim painted with four salmon. Two males swim at the top of the mask, two female salmon circle below. The male and female’s tail fins appear on either side of the moon’s eyes. The salmons’ hooked snouts signal their natural changes as they enter the brackish waters leading to their natal streams. Inside the female bodies are red salmon eggs represented by small red circles. The Moon, transforming with cyclical phases, echoes the natural physical transformation of spawning salmon as they return from their mysterious four-year odyssey in the open ocean to enter the last phase of their journey to spawn and to die.
In stories and ceremonies, salmon reflect ideas about wealth, supernatural power, regeneration, reincarnation, transformation, and the synthesis between supernatural and social experience. The First Salmon ceremonies mark a time of renewal for both humans and fish. Once spawning is finished and the fish die, the continuity of their species is ensured by the fertilized eggs. The people treated the first salmon taken each year with ritual respect in cooking and consuming. The bones of these special fish were carefully gathered and returned to the water in order that the bones be refleshed and the souls of the salmon could thus swim back to their underwater Salmon Villages. This exchange—salmon giving themselves to people and people returning the stuff of regeneration to salmon—ensured the continuity of the salmon runs each season and the continuity of life itself.
Calvin Hunt writes:
First ceremonies follow strict protocols that show respect for the species and the nourishment it provides, for protection against sicknesses and for bringing wealth. Our spiritual world is interconnected with our physical, mental and emotional worlds.
Salmon People live in villages deep under the ocean. At springtime, the immortal humans put on their Salmon masks so they can offer themselves as food to the people., Ceremony through language, song and prayer is undertaken at harvest time to give thanks so that the Salmon will continue their annual journey each year.
In Kwagu’ł Culture, twins are a blessing from the Salmon people, and twins are automatically given the rights to the Salmon dance and crest. Salmon symbolize abundance, fertility, regeneration, perseverance and renewal.
Calvin Hunt carved this stunning mask in red cedar and painted the formlines with red, green, and black acrylic. This large mask measures 3 feet or 91 centimeters across. Copper ovoids are inlaid in the Moon’s eyes. Calvin’s daughter, Ali Hunt, created the twined cedar bark to adorn the rim.