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Totem Pole for the "House which is a Trail"

Arts of the Americas

This pole stood in front of the so-called "House on Which Is a Trail" in the Haida village of Kayang. The crest bird on top depicts the "Raven Stealing the Sun," symbolizing how, in Haida mythology, the raven brought light and enlightenment to humankind. The figure at the bottom holding dorsal fins may represent a character from a Haida legend. According to the story, a person disappears into the blowhole of a mythological bear called a sea grizzly and then passes through a whirlpool to the bottom of the ocean.

MEDIUM Cedar wood
DATES 19th century
DIMENSIONS (a) section: 270 x 39 1/2 x 51 in., 1000 lb. (685.8 x 100.3 x 129.5 cm, 453.6kg) (b) section: 163 × 44 × 29 1/2 in. (414 × 111.8 × 74.9 cm) storage (Crate for (a) section with detached beak made 2009 Surroundart): 51 x 49 x 278 in. (129.5 x 124.5 x 706.1 cm) Storage of 'b' the lower portion. NOT IN CRATE since before 2000: 30 × 42 × 166 in. (76.
COLLECTIONS Arts of the Americas
MUSEUM LOCATION This item is not on view
CREDIT LINE Museum Expedition 1911, Purchased with funds given by Robert B. Woodward
CATALOGUE DESCRIPTION Cedar wood, unpainted. Rear, hollow concavity. Original pole cut in half. Top half (a): Design - plain, tapering cylinder at top, two main figures and part of a third. Upper figure - raven with two subsidiary motifs (crescent across chest and upper wings, a small head and hands peering over the crescent). Raven beak, separate piece of wood. Lower figure - top half of a humanoid with large head above upturned flukes which are grasped in its hands. Fragment of third figure - upturned flukes (whale-like, cut off at tail). Bottom half (b): Design - upside-down humanoid, large animal (bear?) holding a small creature (frog?) to its mouth. CONDITION: Pole cut in two, evidently before arrival at the Museum.
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