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U014.3.668
Artist / Maker : Wasden, William HiƂamas Edward Jr. (Wak'analagalis)
Title : The Mouth of Heaven
Date (Execution) : 1998
Geographical Origin : 'Yalis (Alert Bay); British Columbia; Canada
Cultural Group : 'Namgis, Kwakwaka'wakw
Style / Period : Contemporary 1950 -
Medium / Material  : Serigraph
Support / Technique : paper
Object Type : screen prints
Visual Description : Shades of blue on black ink and white paper in a strong double-lined frame. A bird (perhaps a hummingbird) occupies the centre/.
Accession # : U014.3.668
Width (cm) : 43.00
Height (cm) : 51.25
Depth (cm) :
Mandatory Credit : Gift from the Collection of George and Christiane Smyth
Artist Statement : "Our myths tell us of a place past the clouds at the upper side of what man can see, where the Sun, the Moon and the Stars walk across the sky. It is here that there is a portal our ancestors knew of, which was the entrance into the spirit world. This supernatural place is known as 'The Mouth of Heaven.' This mystical place is fiercely guarded by great supernatural birds known as: Crooked-Beak-of-Heaven, Huxwhukw-of-Heaven (Large Crane-like Bird), Raven-at-the-North-End-of-the-World, Thunderbird, Kulus (Screecher-of-Heaven and Sister of the Thunderbird), only to name the most important ones. My print 'The Mouth of Heaven' represents my interpretation of this awesome belief of my people. The outer designs are clouds in traditional elements forming two faces that depict the great faces of Baxwbakwalanuksiwe' (The-Cannibal-at-the-North-End-of-the-World), in spirit form, whose horrible body was covered with blood craving orifices. THe circular mouth is shared by two faces, creating the entrance way. It is said that when a new initiate of the Ha'mat'sa (Cannibal-Secret-Society) jumps through the Bighouse smoke hole during his initiation, it is symbolic of him coming through 'The Mouth of Heaven.' I have chosen Gwaxgwaxwalanuksiwe', the Cannibal Raven to sit guarding the Entrance, as the Raven is one of my favourite creatures in my culture. The Raven is crowned with a stylized feather on his head with a prominent human face with no eye. It is the Raven's prerogative in the Ha'mat'sa Society to pluck out the eyes of the victims who would be food for the Cannibal. His chest displays a skull, signifying the Raven's role as a major part in the Ha'kat'sa Society, and the most important of the Cannibal Birds. The Raven's tongue is wave-like, which is my interpretation of the Raven's ability to be both good and bad. His sound, 'Gwa! Gwa! Gwa!' can bring messages of truth or lies depending on his temperament or intentions towards those he speaks to."