The Religion of the Kwakiutl Indians

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Author: Boas, Franz (1858-1942)

Year: 1930

Publisher: Columbia University Press

Place: New York


2 Volumes. xvii+284 pages with addenda; viii+288 pages with one plate. Royal octavo (9 1/2" x 6 1/2") bound in original brown cloth with gilt lettering to spine. Contributions to Anthropology Volume X, parts 1 and 2. First editions.

The beings that make up Kwakiutl mythology are remarkably diverse. Accounts of their interactions with humans and each other are passed along through stories that not only form the basis of traditional Kwakiutl spiritual and ceremonial life and lore, but also connect Kwakiutl families to their ancestral pasts. Broadly speaking, Kwakiutl mythology divides the world into several realms: the mortal world, the sky world, the land beneath the sea, and the ghost world. In reality, however, it is difficult to discuss Kwakiutl mythology uniformly owing to the diverse accounts found among the many bands that constitute the Kwakiutl First Nations, though some underlying commonalities exist. Kwakiutl creation stories exhibit tremendous variation, but all hold that the original people appeared a very long time ago and presume the Earth to have already been in existence at that time. Some creation myths, known as transformation stories, tell of ancient ancestors traveling the world transforming nature or themselves into new beings, some taking off their animal masks to reveal their human selves. These ancestors imparted their animal masks as crests for their numaym (lineages), thus identifying some numaym with specific animals, such as the killer whale, wolf, bear, or raven. Some of these characters use their ability to transform to play tricks or to escape the consequences of their actions. Still other tales recount ancient ancestors' encounters with supernatural visitors, angry spirits, and elemental forces.


Some light edge wear else a better than very good set.

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