Baleen Whale Mask
Arts of the Americas
On View: Arts of the Americas Galleries, 5th Floor
This mask was likely worn by a Kwakwaka’wakw chief during winter potlatch ceremonies to demonstrate his prestige and to celebrate the bounty of the sea. Wearing the heavy mask along his back, the dancer would have manipulated interior cords controlling the mask’s fins, mouth, and tail to mimic swimming and diving. The inherited privilege of performing with a mask, along with its related stories, is passed down through generations, and descendants still perform the whale dance today.
Cedar wood, hide, cotton cord, nails, pigment
23 5/8 x 28 1/2 x 81 1/8 in. (60 x 72.4 x 206 cm) (show scale)
Museum Expedition 1908, Museum Collection Fund
You may download and use Brooklyn Museum images of this three-dimensional work in accordance with a Creative Commons license
. Fair use, as understood under the United States Copyright Act, may also apply.
Please include caption information from this page and credit the Brooklyn Museum. If you need a high resolution file, please fill out our online application form
For further information about copyright, we recommend resources at the United States Library of Congress
, Cornell University
, Copyright and Cultural Institutions: Guidelines for U.S. Libraries, Archives, and Museums
, and Copyright Watch
For more information about the Museum's rights project, including how rights types are assigned, please see our blog posts on copyright
If you have any information regarding this work and rights to it, please contact email@example.com
Kwakwaka'wakw. Baleen Whale Mask, 19th century. Cedar wood, hide, cotton cord, nails, pigment, 23 5/8 x 28 1/2 x 81 1/8 in. (60 x 72.4 x 206 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Museum Expedition 1908, Museum Collection Fund, 08.491.8901. Creative Commons-BY (Photo: , 08.491.8901_view01_PS11.jpg)
overall, 08.491.8901_view01_PS11.jpg., 2019
"CUR" at the beginning of an image file name means that the image was created by a curatorial staff member. These study images may be digital point-and-shoot photographs, when we don\'t yet have high-quality studio photography, or they may be scans of older negatives, slides, or photographic prints, providing historical documentation of the object.
Large wooden whale mask carved from 14 pieces of cedar, including the main body carved from one large piece that has been hollowed out. Movable lower jaw, flippers, and flukes are controlled with cords. Head is painted with a red and blue nose and blue eye sockets. Beneath each eye, is black stripe with white dots. Collar is made up of a blue fin design. The whale's blow hole is in the form of a painted and carved face. The dorsal fin, once detachable, is painted and carved with an animal face in profile. The torso is painted with white and blue stripes, and large white dots, running the length of the body which has a white underside.
Not every record you will find here is complete. More information is available for some works than for others, and some entries have been updated more recently. Records are frequently reviewed and revised, and we welcome
any additional information you might have.