gyaaGang (Model Totem Pole)

About this object


A photograph exists of Luke Watson and George Smith with a large scale pole (thought to be in Seattle?) to which this pole is a scale model. Marius Barbeau describes this pole in his "Haida Carvers in Argillite" (1957), pp. 100-101, and records Reverend Collison to have said it is the joint work of Skidegate Haida carvers George Smith and Luke Watson. There is also a photo of the pole as part of the Collison collection, in the Northern BC Archives (2009.7.1.196).

Iconographic meaning

The pole is pictured in M. Barbeau's "Haida Myths Illustrated in Argillite Carvings", p. 299, and is said to illustrate the tale of Nanasimgyet, a hunter's wife kidnapped by a killer whale.

Physical description

Totem pole with seven figures: top is a grey painted bird (crane?) with black wings, shielding with its grey feathers the head of a brown painted seated human male, with a closed mouth, holding a carved object in his left hand. There's a grey painted bird on each side of him, and a weasel-like animal at his belly. Below is a brown painted human, with a frog at either side, over his ears. His mouth is open, showing teeth, and he is holding an object in his left hand. There is a dark brown otter-like animal wrapped around his belly. Next is a human female, painted white with black hair, an open mouth with her teeth showing and a lip plug, holding onto the fin of a whale that she is riding, and which has a red and blue-green animal holding a grey otter in its mouth. There's a fin at either side, and the whale's tale at the lower center. There is also an upside down brown painted creature biting the whale's tail.