October 16, 2010

Ridicule Masks

Along the Northwest Coast, the 'Ridicule' mask can be found within many cultures. This mask is easy to spot because one half is colourful and represents a human face while the other half is blackened and indistinguishable.

This design alludes to a legend about a confrontation between rivals at a potlatch: the wealthy host of the potlatch threw large quantities of eulachon oil on the fire to feed the flames, and his rival - who was seated close to the fire as an honoured guest - did not move in order to demonstrate his strength and to “save face”. This act in itself, however, also reveals the guest’s spite and stupidity. Ridicule masks and the stories that go along with them are often used during potlatches and meetings in which grievances are expressed by an individual or family.

The mask pictured here is a recent 'Ridicule' mask by young Heiltsuk artist, Ian (Nusi) Reid.

No comments: