7waasru (Wasgo)

About this object

History of use

This sculpture of Wasgo replicates the form of a manda, a carved crest figure used historically to support a burial chest inside a grave house.

Narrative

Commissioned by the University of British Columbia for display in Totem Park. The sculpture was moved to the Museum of Anthropology in 1978. Listed as item number 207 in the catalogue "Bill Reid: a Retrospective Exhibition" (1974; Vancouver Art Gallery).

Iconographic meaning

The Wasgo is a monster of Haida legend that had the ability to transform between wolf and sea creature. Here it is portrayed with three killer whales. Supernatural sea beings, as controllers of the riches of the sea, were of great importance to the Haida. Often such beings combined attributes of land and sea creatures.

Physical description

Large sculpture carved from a solid block of wood in the form of Wasgo (Sea Wolf). Depicted is a large wolf with a protruding snout, tongue and ears. On its back are two, black dorsal fins. The wolf holds a killer whale under its forepaws, one in its mouth, and one within its curled tail. Parts are painted black and red in Northwest Coast stylized forms. (The fins and lower killer whale are separate parts.)