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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


Beau Dick (1955-2017), Kwakwaka'wakw


shredded cedar bark, cedar, paint, feathers, twine
, signed and dated; also inscribed "West Coast / Pook-Mis"

overall, without string 30.5 x 15 x 9 in — 77.5 x 38.1 x 22.9 cm; mask 18.25 x 10.75 x 9 in — 46.4 x 27.3 x 22.9 cm

Lattimer Gallery, Vancouver, BC, Sep 1989
Private Collection, Pittsburgh, PA

Born in the community of Yalis (Alert Bay), British Columbia, Beau Dick, known as Walas Gwa’yam, which translates to Big Whale, is widely acknowledged for his importance as both an artist and activist. His artworks have contributed to the ceremonial life of his community, and have expanded the popular conception of Northwest Coast art and imagery among collectors and fellow artists.

Many of Dick’s creations take on a haunting or otherworldly aspect mediated by the artist's integration of a colour palette and style incorporating imagery from Japanese and Western pop culture.

The present artwork is inscribed in the interior West Coast Pook-mis, and depicts the ghost-like Pookmis spirit, sometimes called Pukwu:bis by the Makah, Spirit of the Nearly Drowned, The Other Wild Man or The Destroyer. (1) Pookmis masks are part of an extended family of wild-man and wild-woman imagery that includes the cannibalistic Dzunukwa spirit, who is sometimes said to be the keeper of drowned souls, returning the souls of drowned whalers to their villages during their memorials.

Pook-mis includes a length of twine suspending a cedar whistle. Whistles are closely associated on the Northwest Coast with the voices of spirits, and among the Tlingit are sometimes even called ye'k se (spirit’s voice). (2)

(1) Feest, Christian. “Transformations of a Mask: Confidential Intelligence from the Lifeway of Things.” Baessler-Archiv, Neue Folge, Band XLVI. 1998.
(2) George Thorton Emmons and Frederica de Laguna, The Tlingit Indians (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1991), 454.

Estimate: $10,000—15,000

Auction Results

Auction Date Auction House Lot # Low Est High Est Sold Price
2024-05-29 Waddington's 175 10,000 15,000 42,230.00

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