gyaagang (House Frontal Totem Pole)

About this object

Narrative

Belonging to the Qagials qe’gawa-l Raven family , this pole, and the house named Na a’oga or “House Mother” that it fronted, were owned by a brother of the village chief. His wife became wealthy through the salvage of a sailing ship, and so was able to contribute to building this and another lineage house. Perhaps the figure at the pole’s base represents this wealthy woman or the ancestor after which the house was named. When the pole was purchased from its owner in 1957, it was shipped in three sections. Skedans was abandoned in the 1880's and the house had apparently rotted away by the 1940's. The pole was collected during a joint salvage expedition by the University of British Columbia and the British Columbia Provincial Museum. It was cut into sections for shipment. Various poles were set up along University Boulevard at UBC in 1958-59.The two sections displayed here were once part of the same house-front pole, together with a middle section (A50002b) now displayed on the ramp leading into the Great Hall.

Cultural context

status

Iconographic meaning

Figures are crests belonging to the lineage of the owners of the house. Reference here may be to the name of the house and to the owner's wife who became wealthy through the salvage of a sailing ship. This enabled her to contribute to the construction of the house.

Physical description

Single totem now in three sections (parts a-c). The sections are all crescent shaped in cross section and carved in shallow and deep relief. On the top (part c) is a sitting woman with her fingers folded over onto the palm of her raised right arm. Between her legs is a human head wearing a three ringed hat. There is a large section missing from her lower lip that is suggestive of a labret.