gyaaGang (Model Totem Pole)

About this object

History of use

Argillite carving is an indigenous Haida art which began in the early 1800's after contact with Europeans as a form of tourist art. The market for argillite remained constant while other aspects of culture succumbed to pressures of acculturation and disease. Recent art history studies have found that the images and themes of the argillite poles change over time reflecting the changes occurring within the native communities.

Cultural context

tourist art

Iconographic meaning

Characters on the model poles are often of natural forms. However, to recognize these forms is not to "read" them. These characters and their interrelationships were sometimes meaningless and other times reflected a complex statement with many levels of cultural meanings which are often only known by the artist who created them.

Physical description

Carved argillite, miniature totem pole with flat back. The pole is rectangular in shape with a slight taper at the top and is seated on a u-shaped base with two rounded corners. The figures from top to bottom: eagle; beaver holding a stick; killer whale with tail tucked under mouth. Incised into the back is "Carved by Tom Hans Skidegate B.C."