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KUMUGWE

Kumugwe is King of the Undersea World, also known as “Copper Maker.” His Kingdom is constructed of copper, which is supported by live Sea Lions who serve as house posts. Kumugwe’s most powerful protector is Sisiutl, who guards the entrance of Kumugwe’s domain. Sisiutl is a double-headed sea serpent who can see backwards and forwards at the same time. It is most unwise to cross him, for he will wash you in your own blood. Octopus and Killer Whale are also correlated with Kumugwe’s Kingdom. 

 

In the Legend of Sewidi’s journey to Kumugwe’s Kingdom, it was Octopus who pulled Sewidi into the deeps of the sea, where he was welcomed. It is dangerous to enter Kumugwe’s domain, unless invited. If you are invited into his Kingdom, you will return home with many treasures including songs and dances.

 

Kumugwe commands everything to do with the sea, from the ebb and flow of powerful tides to all of the creatures who reside in the ocean. Even Pugwis collects spirits for Kumugwe, most commonly drown fishermen.

 

Kumugwe is a supernatural spirit, and like all who are associated with copper, he is associated with wealth. Every so often, Kumugwe’s wealth would escape him, and wash upon the shores along the coast. 

 

Kumugwe is depicted with a human-like face with a crown on his head. He is often illustrated with Sea Lions, Sisiutl and other Sea Creatures.

SOURCES

Cheryl Shearar Understanding Northwest Coast Art  (2000)

Campbell River Museum & Archives

Conversations with 'Namgis Artist Kevin Cranmer

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