Possible Ghost Mask of Sam CharlieLalułalagamł "Ghost Mask"
Masks UCC-94.09.013 and UCC-94.09.021 are unidentified and there is no recorded information to accompany them. They could possibly represent ghosts as they both have startling eyes that do not seem to be human. Mask UCC-94.09.013 has protruding rounded eyes with eyelids only on the inside of the eye. It also has green paint that encompasses the eyes and is done to emphasize darkened eye sockets to look like a decomposed face. It also has a small piece of leather nailed to the chin that had fur on it at one time, indicating that this mask is a male with a goatee. Mask UCC-94.09.021 has more of an almost asleep or eyes rolled back appearance. It has a thin mustache indicating that it is also male in character. Both masks are whitewashed, a technique used in Atłak̕am masks to signify a spirit and possibly in this case, a ghost. Both mouths have opened expressions that are said to be the look of ghosts as they speak and make their haunting sounds. Both masks have nails hammered into their rims where cloth was once added to conceal the back of the dancer’s head. It is possible these masks represent ghosts.
Lalułalał "Ghost Dance"
Ghost dancers derive their origins from stories about Ancestors who were able to journey to the "underworld" or realm of the ghosts. From these spiritual experiences these guests are bestowed with the power of the ghosts and learn about the secrets of the ghost dance. In many stories, the visitor may also be blessed with supernatural treasures and magical gifts. Ghost dance initiates usually wear a plain blanket with a headpiece, neck ring, wrist and ankle bans of hemlock boughs. They conceal their face and dance with their hands evenly positioned together palms facing downwards and slightly above one another; this symbolizes the ghost as having no face. If the dancer is a woman, she may have long hair, which she will hang in front of her face to hide it.
After the dancer has been initiated they will then wear regalia made of dyed red cedar bark and a decorated blanket, or possibly a black bear robe. This regalia may be adorned with skulls, displaying ghosts, which are the origin of the dance. The ghost dance is very sacred and preparations are done in secrecy. In earlier times, ghost dancers were magically transported during their dance, sometimes pulled or escorted down tunnels dug into the ground. This would signify their power to travel to the underworld. The dancer would usually return in four days to complete the ceremony. During this disappearance, kelp tubes were placed in the ground to have the voice of the dancer and the sound of ghosts being made. These eerie tones were released at the ends of the tubes around the fire, which is believed to be the direct connection to the spirit world. Sometimes carvings representing ghosts will rise from the ground and appear to display the spirit of the dance. In ancient times, men danced the ghost dance as well as women; today, it is mainly women. There are many masks that have been identified as ghost masks; these masks would have been used by men in the ghost dances; for it was against Kwakwa̱ka̱'wakw protocol for a woman to conceal her face by wearing a mask.
The two unidentified masks in the collection have many characteristics of ghosts or spirits. Our research leads us to believe that these are ghosts masks.
The "Unidentified Masks" in the Potlatch Collection are listed as belonging to:
Harry Hanuse UCC-94.09.013, UCC-94.09.021