gyảaGang (House Frontal Totem Pole)

About this object


Displayed lying down are fragments of a totem pole that would have been ceremonially raised in the mid 1800s on Haida Gwaii. The pole fronted a large house named TlldaGaaw Naay, or Mountain House. At some point the upper sections fell to the ground. The base of the pole is preserved in MOA’s Great Hall. The following people assisted with this expedition: Smyly, John; Atkins, Bernard; Reid, Bill; Duncan, Kelly; Jones, Roy; Jones, Clarence; Jones, Frank.

Cultural context

house frontal pole

Iconographic meaning

Figures owned by lineages of the house owner. Grizzly bear was a crest of the lineages of the 'Striped Town People' and 'Sand Town People' of the Raven Moiety, to which the male house owner may have belonged. The supernatural Snag was also a crest of the 'Striped Town People". Human arms of the bird may indicate ability to transform from animal to human.

Physical description

The upper section of a totem, crescent shaped in cross section, carved in shallow and deep relief. From top to bottom: bird with a long beak turned down to reach midpoint of raised adjacent human forearm, four fingers folded over palm. Claw framed by ear of bear below. Hawk-like face against body.