polychrome wood, hair, fabric strap, 13 x 8.75 x 6.5 in (33 x 22.2 x 16.5 cm), excluding hair
inscribed in graphite, "Dzoonakwa / by Klatle-Bhi / March/96".
Estimate: $4,000— $6,000
Private Collection, Ottawa.
Dzoonakwa (or Dzunuḵwa) is a Kwakwaka'wakw and Nuu-chah-nulth mythological figure. Known also as the Wild Woman of the Woods, her physical strength and supernatural powers were wide ranging. In some interpretations, she represents a cautionary figure, used to warn children of the dangers inherent in wandering too far into the forest. As Klatle-Bhi has done with this striking mask, Dzunuḵwa is often depicted with sleepy-looking eyes and prominent lips: bright red from the blood she drinks, and pursed to suggest her siren cry that can immobilize listeners, allowing for the giantess to snatch errant children.
Interestingly, Canadian artist Emily Carr, through her admittedly colonial gaze, depicted the figure of Dzunuḵwa in several of her works. In her book Klee Wyck Carr described her encounter with a figure of the ogress in 1912 at the village of Gwa'yasdams as a sublime encounter with "the great wooden image towering above me." Carr went on to write that after this experience "the fierce wooden image often came to me, both in my waking and in my sleeping" .
1. Emily Carr, Klee Wyck (Toronto/Vancouver: Clarke, Irwin & Company Limited, 1941), pp. 33-34.