Hamootkw (Soul Catcher)

Hamootkw (Soul Catcher)

Part of the halayt’s supernatural toolkit, a hamootkw was used to capture the souls of sick people and cure them by putting the soul back in its proper position. This soul catcher is made of hollow bone cut horizontally at each end to form an open mouth. The ends are carved as heads of a zoomorphic creature. The centre is carved as head with short body and arms. The eyes of all three faces, plus the nostrils and teeth of the outer faces, are inlaid with abalone. Babiche (rawhide) passes through two holes on top and are tied together. Chief James Ksdiyaawak- of Gitlax-t’aamiks explained that this hamootkw, acquired from him in 1908, had belonged to his grandfather (c. mid-1850s), whose name was recorded by English speakers as “Waathl.”