This Pugwis or Merman with Killer Whale Mask is carved and painted by Kwakwaka'wakw Master Carver Bill Henderson from the Wei Wai Kum Nation in Campbell River.
Pugwis is an undersea spirit in human form with a fish-like face, gills, round eyes, and two large beaver-like teeth.
The Orca or Killer Whale symbolizes family, romance, longevity, harmony, travel, community and protection. He is said to protect those who travel away from home, and to lead them back when the time comes. Orcas will often stay their whole life with the same pod and raise each calf with care.
Find more information about and examples of The Orca/Killer Whale Northwest Coast First Nations symbol.
The mask is over 19.5 inches or 50 centimeters long, 15 inches or over 38 centimeters wide and 15 inches or 38 centimeters deep. The main mask is carved in red cedar, painted in red, green, black, and white acrylic, and features two bundles of cedar bark on each side. A finely carved and painted yellow cedar Killer Whale or Orca features on the head of Pugwis. The Killer Whale carving is 12 inches or 30 centimeters long, up to 6 3/4 inches or over 21 centimeters wide and 4 inches or over 17 centimeters high.
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