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Raven masks are often used in the prestigious Hamat’sa, a complex series of dances involving an initiation ceremony. The raven is one of three cannibal bird attendants to the great Bakhwbakwalanooksiwey, a spirit described as a humanoid covered in mouths. The initiate is usually a young man. He becomes possessed by Bakhwbakwalanooksiwey but is gradually subdued and then finally reintegrated into society. The initiate is accompanied by three cannibal birds who make a dramatic appearance in dances by sharply snapping their powerful beaks. This is accomplished by the dancer who snaps the mask’s lower beak up and down.
height 9 in ; length 26.25 in