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A Kwakwaka'wakw Thunderbird Mask Carved by Sam Shaugnessy C. 21st Century.


Item: 125

A Hand carved Thunderbird decorated with traditional Pacific Northwest paint colours found in nature. Made from red cedar with a moving mouth. His plumage is represented with cedar bark. 




Width - 26cm / 10.23in


Length - 32cm / 12.59in 

The Thunderbird

The Thunderbird is considered by many of the First Nations of the Pacific Northwest to be the most powerful of all mythical creatures. Represented atop Totem poles and synonymous with First Nations tribes throughout Canada and America. It is said to possess wings as large as two canoes, hunt whales using its large talons, have snakes under its wings, shoot lightning bolts from its eyes and to be the source of a thunder clap whenever hunters get too close to its nest.



There are countless myths regarding the Thunderbird but one of the most renowned is of The Great Chief (Namoquayalis-"the only one").


(Namoquayalis-"the only one") lived in the highest mountain, called Klaskis, near Cape Cook. At one time a great flood threatened to engulf the world. Then lightning flashed four times, and a Thunderbird appeared before the Great Chief, transformed himself into a human being, and came to the rescue of the Great Chief. The Great Chief then asked the Thunderbird to go look around the land for any survivors of the flood. After completing his search, the Thunderbird returned and told the Great Chief that he had found some human survivors. So the Great Chief then told the Thunderbird to go and invite these people to come and witness a Thunderbird dance. This dance and the Thunderbird privileges have been passed down from generation to generation of the Great Chief's family.

Co - Museum of Anthropology Vancouver B.C. 

Sam Shaugnessy

Sam descended from the renowned Shaugnessy family of carvers and belonged to the Dzawada'Enuxw of Kingcome Inlet - Kwakwakawakw group of Nations of the Pacific Northwest. 



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