North American Auction Company
Live Auction

Legends of the West: Western & Native American Sale

Sat, Sep 23, 2023 11:00AM EDT
Lot 86

Al Cole (1944-2009) Hamatsa Crooked Bear Mask

Estimate: $2,000 - $3,000

Bid Increments

Price Bid Increment
$50 $10
$100 $25
$500 $50
$1,000 $100
$2,000 $250
$5,000 $500
$10,000 $1,000
$30,000 $2,500
$50,000 $5,000
$100,000 $10,000
This is an outstanding and large Crooked Bear Mask signed and carved by Al Cole (1944-2009) of the Nuxalk (Bella Coola) Kwakwaka'wakw from the 20th Century. The Crooked Bear Mask or Galugadza'yi (Galuxwadzuwus), is part of a set of masks used in the dance of the Hamat'sa or Hamatsa society; also known as the Man-Eater-at-the-North-End-of-the-World (cannibal society). The other three masks are called Huxhugwaxtawe (the Splitter of Skulls), Gwaxwgwakwalanuksiwe (Plucker of Eyes), and Hamasiwe’ (Eater of Foreheads). This set of masks is used in one of the dances of the Hamat’sa (Cannibal Dance). Galugadza'yi is known as the “greater” Crooked Beak of Heaven and works together with Hamasiwe’, who is also known as the Smallest of Servants. The four birds are cannibal birds; they guard the four corners of the world and are servants of the cannibal of the north end of the world, Baxwbakwalanuksiwe. The masks are used as part of an initiation ceremony into the Hamatsa (cannibal) society, which is the most prestigious society of the Kwakwaka’wakw. These traditional ceremonies are part of Kwakwaka’wakw culture, which is thriving on Vancouver Island. (feat: As noted by I-Hos Gallery “The Crooked Bear Mask…”) Al Cole is a noted, renowned Nuxalk (Bella Coola) Native American artist who was born in 1944 and died in 2009. A few of his works can be seen such as the Al Cole Spindle Whorl at the Inuit Gallery of Vancouver $8,500 and the Al Cole Nuxalk Shamn’s Maskwhich sold in 2014 for $2,250. The piece is signed in Al Cole’s noted stippling or dot like signature on the underside, inside the mask, “AL COLE NUXALK” and marked in graphite pencil “Crooked Bear Mask”. This is from the Dan Paynich ex-collection. This mask shows a solid wood carving, likely from aged Alaskan Yellow Cedar showing a large Crooked Bear shape having a polychrome painted finish with inlaid abalone eyes. Living Tradition notes the Galagadza’Yi Crooked Beak of Heaven mask as showing a dramatic curving piece that spirals off her beak. The bottom of the articulated or hinged mouth shows a totem human figure face. One side of the large crook shows an inlaid or integral carved human totemic face as well. The mask shows hide ties holding cedar bark grasses along the top, back, sides and bottom. This is one of Al Cole’s best carvings showing a large impressive size and outstanding color. The crook on one side shows an integral line, likely where the crook was attached, it is not lose. Crooked Bear Mask’s are exceedingly collectible, due to their high craftsmanship and attachment to the rare Hamatsa Cannibal Society with some being listed as high as $20,500.00 (Coastal Peoples Crooked Bear Mask by Raymond Shaw). Measures 29"L by 9.5"W by about 29"H with bark grass. Good overall condition, and it has the mentioned line at the crook to mask connection and at the top a loop for hanging.*

North American Auction Company is proud to announce the opening of our new in-house, full-service shipping department. We have listened to you the customer and will now be handling all outgoing packages in our new shipping department. We are confident this new offering will allow for a smooth transition from auction block to your front step. We have partnered with preferred carriers to ensure a safe, efficient delivery that works best with your schedule. Please allow 14-21 days after complete invoice payment is made to package and ship your purchase. After you are notified of your winning bids from our company and your item invoice is paid in full our new shipping department will contact you. Make sure when signing up with our company that your preferred shipping information is up to date as this information will be used to estimate shipping cost. Once the items have been packaged our team will contact you for shipping payment. Shipping invoices and payment will be completely separately than the items invoice. Please notify the shipping department with any alternate request or instructions at or 800-686-4216 ext. 3. For a shipping quote please contact the same information above. PLEASE NOTE a shipping quote price can fluctuate in price. Auction company is not responsible for actual shipping cost being higher than quoted shipping cost. Thank you for trusting North American Auction Co. with your bids and shipping. As our shipping department is brand new please understand that delays can be expected.