Ceremonial masks play an integral role in Pacific Northwest Coast Native culture. These masks depict indigenous animals, humans, forces of nature or supernatural beings.
Historically, masks were commissioned by a Chief and danced by the carver, which would increase the value of the mask as well as the status of the carver. Today, most masks are created strictly for decorative purposes, but still there are many made and danced for specific ceremonies. Coastal Peoples Gallery provides both varieties.
The masks in our collection represent various nations along the western coastline, from the Coast Salish and Nuu-Cha-Nulth in the south to the Tlingit in the north. The use of colour and form varies from nation to nation; revealing each distinctive culture.