The Ridicule Mask

jhridicule.jpg (14338 bytes)A long time ago the Kwaguilth people of northern Vancouver Island held a huge potlatch. Chiefs were invited from all the villages to the north and south to come and witness the songs and dances that the Kwaguilth people possessed. During the potlatch the chiefs were given a chance to speak to the audience. They each spoke in turn of their own home's virtues. Some proclaimed to have the largest Salmon, or the finest bighouse, or the most beautiful women. When it came to a northern chief's turn he strode into the center of the house and held a large jar above his head. He proclaimed that he owned the largest supply of ooligan oil. This oil is made from the Ooligan fish, sometimes called the candle fish because it is so oily that when it is dried out you can light one end and it will burn like a candle. The oil is very flammable and considered very valuable. The Chief extolled about his wealth and to show his power he threw the jar into the fire, where it exploded. The fire leapt up and burned one side of his face. Since then the Kwaguilth have made the Ridicule Mask to represent the danger of losing sight of our humility and to remind us that we suffer the consequences of our own actions.


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