Spirit Wrestler Gallery (Vancouver, Canada)

Komokwa • Chief of the Undersea World Mask


  • Medium: red cedar, cedar bark
  • Size: 35.5 × 21.5 × 15.5 inches (incl. base)
  • Reference Code: X110601

Featured in the book, Mythic Beings: Spirit Art of the Northwest Coast by Gary Wyatt.

Donald Svanvik: Komokwa, the chief of the undersea world, lives in a great house with live sea lions as house posts. His powers include the ability to see into the future, heal the sick or injured and bestow privileges to whomever he wishes. His treasures include blankets, coppers, songs and dances. If you are able to enter the realm of Komokwa, you may learn the ways of the undersea world and return home with many magical treasures.

The mask displays an octopus, who is a servant of Komokwa and the gatekeeper to his realm. The loon is often displayed atop Komokwa as a reference to his size: the loon mistook him for an island and landed on his head. On the chest of the loon is the figure of a person who has been to the world of Komokwa and returned with treasures—one of them being this mask.

The Kwakawaka’wakw have elaborate dances representing the undersea world, the animal kingdom and the sky world. Each shows the real and the supernatural creatures of these domains, and the special powers and attributes they have. These stories are linked to historical discoveries and events that earned families the rights to display these beings as crests and to dance their stories.

Donald Svanvik


(1958- )

Donald Svanvik was born in 1958, in Alert Bay, a small island community on the northern coast of Vancouver Island. His father, Karl-Eric Svanvik came from Finland and is of Swedish descent, and his mother Alice Whonnock was from Alert Bay.