I ran across this exquisite doll depicting a person in a Dzonoqua ceremonial mask and costume. The mask shows the traditional depiction of Dzonoqua, the wild woman of the woods, with her pursed lips as if whistling (as bigfoots are reported to do). Dzonoqua is covered in hair, and is often represented in ceremonies by a person wearing bear fur and a mask as is seen in the doll. In the images above, Dzonoqua’s breasts are depicted indicating she is a female figure, a giantess or ogress, not her mail counterpart known as Bukwas. It is generally thought that she and Bukwas represent sasquatch. For more on the Dzonoqua mythology, click this link.
The artist responsible for this piece is the late Shona Ha, also known as Mary Smith. The work was created sometime around 1980 using red cedar, cedar bark, wood, faux fur, greens and pigment. I think all would agree this is a tremendous representation.
I could find little online about Shona Ha, though I found many pieces of art she created. What little I found about the artist herself is below:
Shona-Hah (1912-1997) is the mother of Lelooska, Kwunkwa-dzi, Patty Fawn, and Tsungani. She was born in a black walnut log cabin in Oklahoma’s old Cherokee Nation. There, she was given the name Shona-Hah, “gray dove”. Her Kwakiutl name, Tl’alilhilugwa, bestowed in 1968 by , means “whale rising”.
Shona-Hah’s life bespeaks her Indian heritage. In her youth, she both trained horses and rode in races and exhibitions. As a small child, she began participating in the traditional dances and continued throughout her life. Always interested in all facets of Indian art, she exceled at beadwork, skin sewing, carving, painting, and doll making.
Her dolls are valued highly by private collectors and museums as illustrations of vanished cultures. They bring alive both ceremonial and every day events in the lives of the people of many different North American tribes. From the Osage of Oklahoma to the Kwakiutls of British Columbia, she draws on first-hand knowledge of the cultures and the memories of the Old Ones for her inspiration.
Shona-Hah’s children credit her with their love and respect for Indian art and traditions. She taught them the skills she had acquired and sacrificed to help them become artists in their own right.
“She and our grandfather,” Lelooska says, “imparted to us that which was to become the essence of our heritage.”
Passing away in October of 1997, Shona-Hah occupied a place of major importance in the family structure. A cohesive element in the group, she was also an important contributor to the educational programs. She not only participated in them, she also made many of the costumes.
If you or someone you know has more information about Shona Ha, her work, or her legacy, I would be very interested to hear more about it. Feel free to contact me by clicking this link and sharing what you know about her. Thank you!