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Haida Pole

Haida Pole, 1966
Carvers: Henry Hunt and Tony Hunt
Based on: Haida Pole

The original pole stood at t’anuu ‘llnagaay (eelgrass town) in front of a house named House that Makes a Noise, a large six-beamed house owned by Gwiskunas, a member of the Those Born at Qadasgo Creek lineage of the Raven clan of the Haida. It was photographed in t’anuu ‘llnagaay by Charles. F. Newcombe in 1901 and painted by Emily Carr in 1928. (Emily Carr’s watercolour painting, misleadingly known as the Weeping Woman of Tanu, is now in the BC Archives, PDP02313.) In 1954, by arrangement of the British Columbia Totem Pole Preservation Committee, the pole was taken down and brought to Victoria. It was cut into sections for transport and one of the sections is now on display behind glass near the east entrance to the museum (RBCM 15557 d).
RBCM 20132
All Colour Images - RBCM, 2006.


Haida Pole Three Watchmen, guardians who are said to call out warnings at the approach of enemy canoes. They wear hats with rings (skils) that indicate their high status.
Eagle, a crest of the wife of Gwiskunas.
Hawk or Owl, only the head of which is shown between the Eagle’s wings.
Hair Seal between the Eagle’s talons.

Sea Chief, who lives on a rock off the north end of Banks Island across the strait from t’anuu ‘llnagaay. At night the eyes of the Sea Chief fall from their sockets and hang down to his waist. At meal times his friends put his eyes back in their sockets, hold them there and support his eyelids so that he can see to eat. The Sea Chief’s principal food is hair seal, which he must swallow whole because he has no teeth. After several hours he spits out the undigested bones with great force.

Frog, facing downwards on the Sea Chief’s chest.
Human, grasping the tail of a Killer Whale.
Killer Whale, whose dorsal fin is between the knees of another human shown upside down riding on the Killer Whale’s back. The two human figures and the Killer Whale refer to the story of Nanasimgit, whose wife is abducted by a whale.
Sea Bear, with the downward head of the Killer Whale becoming its head. The Sea Bear is swallowing a sea mammal headfirst and its flippers protrude from the sides of the mouth. Small animals peek through the ears.

Three Watchmen
Close up of One of the Three Watchmen
Eagle with Hawk or Owl between Wings
Hawk or Owl
Close up of Hawk or Owl
Hair Seal
Sea Chief
Close up of Sea Chief

Frog Human Figure
Human Figure and Frog
Human Figure Close up of Human Figure
Killer whale Face
Sea Bear
t’anuu ‘llnagaay, 1901. Charles F. Newcombe photograph.
RBCM PN 104.
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