Kumakwa (Chief of the Sea) Mask by David Mungo Knox, Kwakwaka'wakw
Kwagiulth Kumakwa (Chief of the Sea) Mask, 2016
by Chief David Mungo Knox, Kwakwaka'wakw First Nation
red cedar, cedar bark, pigment
20" high x 28" wide x 16" deep
Kumakwa (Kumugwe) is a figure in the mythology known as "The Copper-Maker" He is the god of the undersea world revered by the Kwakwaka'wakw and Nuxalk Nationas of British Columbia. Kumakwa has a house under the sea filled with riches, and his name means "Wealthy One."
Kumakwa is master of the seals. The posts and beams of his house are living sea lions. Sometimes he appears on the surface of the sea, but his head is so big that it looks like an island. He is responsible for the rising and ebbing of the tides, as well as the riches these tides deposit on the beach. Kumakwa has the power to see into the future, heal the sick and injured, and bestow powers on those whom he favors.
Many heroes went on quests to reach his undersea house; those who made it were rewarded with riches and spirit magic. His world is guarded by the octopus. Kumakwa would teach those who made it to his home the ways of the sea, and give them gifts of blankets, coppers, songs, masks, and regalia.
Hereditary Chief David Mungo Knox was born on November 14, 1973 in Port Hardy, British Columbia. He is from the Kwakwaka'wakw nation. He apprenticed under his uncle Tony Hunt Sr., and his cousin Tom Hunt. He is the great grandson of master carver Mungo Martin (1881-1962) and comes from a great line of hereditary chiefs, master carvers, singers, and dancers.
David carries on his family traditions preserving the unique Kwakwaka’wakw style. He works in a variety of mediums, carving in both red and yellow cedar. He also carves and designs his own drums that he uses ceremonially. His goal is to carry on family traditions and to preserve the Kwakwaka’wakw culture.
“My name is David Mungo Knox, my Indian name is, ‘Maswayalidzi’, which means potlatch giver. I am a Walas Kwakiutl artist from Fort Rupert (T’asix’s), British Columbia. Fort Rupert is known as the capital of potlatching, which has been a part of my family’s traditions for many generations.
I am also from a line of Hereditary Chiefs, master carvers and very skilled dancers. My kinmanship stems from my father Chief Peter Knox (Martin) who is the son of David Martin. My grandfather Dave Martin was the only son of the late Chief Mungo Martin. Both my father and grandfather learned their artistic skills from my great-grandfather. I started to carving in the spring of 1991 in Victoria at the Royal BC Museum. I continue to apprentice under my Uncle Chief Tony Hunt Sr. who was also taught by my great-grandfather Mungo Martin.”
-David Mungo Knox