By Tim Alfred
Carved by Tim Alfred
24"h. x 4.5"w. x 1"d.
The Sisiyutł in the Kwakwa̱ka̱'wakw Mythology
"The sisiyutl swims in the water like fish. When it is shot at, it unfolds and shows its true form. A person who finds the tracks of a double-headed serpent and washes his hands in the slime left on the trail has his hands turned into stone. Clotted blood of the Sisiyutl rubbed on the body transforms the skin into stone. Its skin put on the head ring of red cedar-bark kills those who see it, turns them into stone, or transforms them into foam.
The sun wears the double-headed serpent mask, which he gives to K!wexalalagilis, an ancestor of the G.ap!enox. The house of a dzunuqwa has a Sisiyutl with darting tongues on each side of the door. It is the food of the thunderbird who carries it along in his talons. Q!aneqelak kills a Sisiyutl and has a sisiyutl-canoe who could move of its own volition and its eyes might be used as a formidable weapons when hurled from a sling."
In conclusion, the Sisiyutl is so consistent with its ambiguous nature, sometimes the death-dealing monster the sight of whom brought death, but sometimes the bestower of a great power.
About the artist Tim Alfred
Tim was born in Alert Bay, B.C. in 1967 and moved to the village of Fort Rupert, B.C. in 1985. His family tree includes the bands of Kwakiutl (Fort Rupert), Namgis (Alert Bay), Mumtagila (Etsekin and area), Mamalelqala (Village Island) and Tlowitsis (Turnour Island).
In 1989, at a memorial potlatch for his brother, his mother’s family placed him in the family’s Chief position at the Big House in Alert Bay, where he received the name ‘Mus-cum-tsi”, which symbolizes the four clans of the Kwakwaka’wakw nation.
Tim first started carving in the world renowned Kwakiutl style at the age of 20 and was mainly instructed by Stanley C. Hunt. Wayne Alfred, Beau Dick and Calvin Hunt were also influences in his carving career. As a young artist he was able to learn techniques in making bentwood boxes, planking for cedar trees, carve masks, paddles, model canoes and making regalia for traditional use in the Big House.
Some of his other projects include two drums and twenty paddles he made for the Fort Rupert Elementary School in 1998. He has also done charity work for memorial trophies and made donations to various fund-raising events in his community, including the reconstruction auction to benefit work for the Big House in Alert Bay. His work sells to many galleries including sales to museums in Alert Bay and the Royal British Museum in Victoria.