Troy Roberts – Dzunukwa Wild Woman

Troy Roberts
Kwakwaka’wakw (Wei Wai Kum), 1967

Dzunukwa Wild Woman
Red cedar

Attention: Taking a photo is allowed; however, the generous donors of Dzunukwa Wild Woman request that this not be posted on Facebook or social media.

Descended from chiefs of the Wei Wai Kum First Nation, Troy Roberts has been immersed in native cultural heritage since he was a small boy, when he learned the myths of his people under the careful guidance of the late Elizabeth Kwaksistala. He drew further inspiration from the great Willie Seaweed. His works reflect his concern for the story behind each piece as well as for perfection of line and shape, with the inside of his masks showing the same sensitive precision as the outer forms. His color palette harmonizes with his distinctive style of carving – bold and strong, yet unique to each piece. Troy observes that he feels a great sense of inner peace when carving masks: “There is nothing more satisfying than creating a mystical spirit of my culture out of something so natural as a block of wood.”

Tsonoqua (Dzunuk’wa, Tsonokwa), Wild Woman of the Woods, is a mythic being with dark skin and hair, about twice the size of a human being. She reputedly has great wealth, although by reputation she is slow-witted and has poor eyesight. She captures children and carries them in a basket on her back, planning to take them home to eat; the children typically manage to outsmart her and escape.

Portrayals of Tsonoqua show her with pursed lips to evoke her wild cry, which resembles wind whistling through cedar forests. She has long, pendulous breasts and matted hair, and her eyes are rimmed with red, set in deep sockets.