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Huxwhukw - Plaque Carvings and Plaques

Huxwhukw - Plaque

By Shawn Karpes

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Carved by Shawn Karpes

13"h. x 25"w. x 2"d.

Huxwhukw in Kwakwa̱ka̱'wakw Mythology

Huxwhukw, a long beaked bird, lives with Baxwbakwalanuksiwe, the Cannibal-of-the-North-End-of-the-World. "This man-eater lives with many servants in a house in the mountains that always has red smoke rising from the chimney. To the right on the rear wall of his house is the room of Huxwhukw. The front is painted with the design of the Huxwhukw. When dancing he wears the cannibal-head mask.(2)" He constantly craves human flesh and could crack open human skulls with his powerful beak in order to devour his victim's brain.

Baxwbakwalunuksiwe (literally "having the eating of the men at the mouth of the river") is very important in the kwakwaka'wakw mythology. He gave rise to one of the mainly secret society of the Kwakwaka'wakw, the Hamat'sa. It is said that those possessed by Baxwbakwalanuksiwe have the violent desire to eat human flesh, just as he does. At last, in the contemporary potlatch, the Hamat'sa is considered to be the most important of all of the dances of the Kwakwaka'wakw.

About the Artist Shawn Karpes

Shawn Karpes “I’nis” was born in Vancouver, BC on May 12th 1968. His training began in 1982 with George Hunt Jr., Jim Gilbert and Victor Newman during a Native art program sponsored by three levels of Victoria public schools. Shawn then experimented in three-dimensional form. In this program, Shawn concentrated on basic design, painting and woodcarving. During this time Shawn’s mother, Elisabeth Karpes (nee Alfred) was working at Arts of Raven Gallery and introduced Shawn to many carvers. Shawn was raised in Whitehorse and lived there until 1977, so the world of Northwest Coast carving was a new experience to him although one to which was connected by birth.
This introduction developed into a study of his family as well as culture and history of the ‘Namgis “Alert Bay and Nimpkish Valley Tribe” and the Kwakwaka’wakw “Kwak̕wala Speaking People”. Through this study Shawn was able to meet and befriend many artists who in turn inspired his own work.

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