Native America

How masks help tell the legend of the Wild Woman

Tsonokwa transformation masks made by artist Scott Jensen are part of the Whatcom Museum education collection. The story of Tsonokwa (Dzunuk’wa, Tsonoqua) or Wild Woman of the Woods, is a Northwest Coast Native legend about a mythical, dark-haired, large female being who captures children and carries them home in a basket to eventually eat them. Parents used the Tsonokwa story as a warning to keep their children safe and discourage them from venturing too far into the forest “or Tsonokwa might get you and eat you.” In the story, the children usually manage to outwit Tsonokwa and escape from her captivity. Many Northwest Coast native artists have created cedar masks to share stories and legends such as Tsonokwa.
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