In the old times, the Kwakwaka’wakw believed that art symbolized a common underlying element shared by all species.
Kwakwaka’wakw arts consist of a diverse range of crafts, including totems, masks, textiles, jewelry and carved objects, ranging in size from masks to 40′ tall totem poles. Cedar wood was the preferred medium for sculpting and carving projects as it was readily available in the native Kwakwaka’wakw regions. Totems were carved with bold cuts, a relative degree of realism, and an emphatic use of paints. Masks make up a large portion of Kwakwaka’wakw art, as masks are important in the portrayal of the characters central to Kwakwaka’wakw dance ceremonies.
Woven textiles included the Chilkat blanket, dance aprons and button cloaks, each patterned with Kwakwaka’wakw designs. The Kwakwaka’wakw used a variety of objects for jewelry, including ivory, bone, abalone shell, copper, silver and more. Adornments were frequently found on the clothes of important persons.
Kwakwaka’wakw music is the ancient art of the Indigenous or Aboriginal Kwakwaka’wakw peoples. The music is an ancient art form, stretching back thousands of years. The music is used primarily for ceremony and ritual, and is based around percussive instrumentation, especially log, box, and hide drums, as well as rattles and whistles. The four-day Klasila festival is an important cultural display of song and dance and masks; it occurs just before the advent of the tsetseka, or winter.
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