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1533 Sul Ross St.
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Open Now
Wed–Sun 11am–7pm
Free Admission
1533 Sul Ross St.
Houston, TX 77006
713-525-9400

Menil

Nuu-chah-nulth peoples
Mask, ca. 1778
Canada, British Columbia, Vancouver Island
Wood, paint, and human hair
10 × 7 1/4 × 5 3/4 in. (25.4 × 18.4 × 14.6 cm)
3-D Object-Sculpture
1973-07 DJ

Photo: Hickey-Robertson, Houston
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In Nuu-chah-nulth myth, the ogress Dzunukwa lives in the forest and is the nightmare bringer. She is known to kidnap children and devour them. Masks carved to represent her, such as this one, have sunken cheeks with open mouths that suck inward and deep-set eyes with absent pupils or empty eye sockets, indicating that she is blind. Fur that was originally attached to the eyebrows, mouth, and head would have accentuated the ogress’s monstrosity, but only traces remain. Dzunukwa’s hollowed features indicate that she endangers communal welfare by hoarding important resources, and as a cannibal, she threatens to disrupt ancestral lines by eating children. Dzunukwa’s mask is performed during winter potlatches where summer wealth is distributed. She is often goaded and chided in these performances as her intended victims outwit her.<?xml:namespace prefix = "o" ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />

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Susan Sutton