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Sylvia Bradt

Hello. Welcome to Petroglyph Gallery. My name is Sylvia Bradt. My Nuxalk name is Sinu7ximus. In creating my gallery I had two main goals. One was to use it as a means to educate people about my culture and the role art played among Northwest Coast Peoples. The second was to offer authentic, high quality First Nations art to customers and collectors from around the world. I guarantee the authenticity of every piece of Native art for sale in my gallery. I hope you enjoy viewing the images on this site and that you will visit again.

Like many Northwest Coast peoples, the Nuxalk of Bella Coola believed that their first ancestors descended from the upper world of the Creator. These first Ones had the special ability to change from human to animal form and back again. Eventually Salmon, Raven, Bear, Wolf, Mink and the other first ancestors lost their ability to transform and remained in their human shape.

As time went on, Nuxalk culture became centered upon the ability of each family member to trace back their lineage to one or more of the first Ones to come down from Nusmata, the land above. Stories, dances, names, crests and carvings became sacred and cherished possessions of individual families. Special prerogatives were validated and passed down through the generations in order to keep the memory of each family’s lineage alive. Winter ceremonials and potlatches retold the old stories in sophisticated dramatic reenactments where, through the use of dances, songs and masks, beings from the land above literally came alive for those not initiated into the secret societies performing the rituals.

The audience believed that the masked dancers really were the figures they represented and in order to protect the deception masks were often burned after use. This meant that many new masks had to be made every year. This led to the creation of a very unique style of Nuxalk mask. Even today there are many artists from outside our culture who copy the Bella Coola style but there are very few Nuxalk carvers creating authentic Bella Coola masks. Even more rare are the Nuxalk carvers who still carve in the traditional style common before European contact.


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