Syllabic Translator

i u a pi pu pa ti tu ta ki ku ka gi gu ga mi mu ma ni nu na si su sa li lu la ji ju ja vi vu va ri ru ra qi qu qa ngi ngu nga lhi lhu lha

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Beau Dick



cedar, horsehair, copper, acrylic paint, ca. early 2000s
signed and titled

overall dimensions 45 x 37 x 13 in — 76.2 x 80 x 33 cm

Private Collection, British Columbia

"Komunokas", also known as "Qominaga", "Copper Woman" and "Rich Woman" is a quintessential Beau Dick mask. In Kwakwaka’wakw legend, "Rich Woman" is a powerful, pan-cultural female spirit who is the wife of the fearsome Baxwbakwalanuxwsiwe’, the Cannibal-at-the-North-End-of-the-World. Her presence is associated with Frog and Coppers and often accompanied by the cannibal birds at a Hamatsa ceremony. She symbolizes both material wealth and the wealth of wisdom that comes with age. Her greed-repelling grimace immortalizes Dick’s commitment to Potlatch values, where to be rich means to give it all away.

Large masks such as this "Rich Woman" are among the most sought-after of Dick’s works; they allow viewers to experience the drama of his carving and the virtuoso of his talent on a grand scale. The wide, flat shape of this piece resembles a frontlet, a small mask worn over the forehead that often displays the crests of a chief or high-ranking person, symbolizing fortune and honour. Dick’s reference to a frontlet, a typically small-scale, but highly valuable, object, further highlights the grandness of this mask’s size.

"Rich Woman" is an excellent example of Dick’s ability to revisit the same character over and over and make it unique. In 2014, when Beau set out on his journey from UBC to Ottawa to perform copper-breaking ceremony at the parliament buildings, a "Rich Woman" mask like this was one of those chosen to accompany Beau and his team. The copper-breaking brought tremendous attention to the environmental and social issues facing Indigenous peoples and placed transformational impact on a national and international level. Being part of the event, "Rich Woman" carries significant cultural and political connotation to her own self-image: her honour and glory will always bring power to her people and her community.

We thank LaTiesha Fazakas for contributing this essay. Ms Fazakas is Curator and Director of Fazakas Gallery in Vancouver. She was the curatorial coordinator for Beau Dick for his participation in "Documenta 14" in Athens, GR and Kassel, DE. LaTeisha co-wrote and directed a feature length documentary "Maker of Monsters: The Extraordinary Life of Beau Dick".

Estimate: $30,000—35,000

Auction Results

Auction Date Auction House Lot # Low Est High Est Sold Price
2022-09-29 Waddington's 18 30,000 35,000 56,400.00

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