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House Post, from a Set of Four

Arts of the Americas

On View: Arts of the Americas Galleries, 5th Floor
The two house posts seen here and owned by the Heiltsuk eagle clan of Yálátli (Goose Island) depict the following creation story. In the beginning of time, many inhabitants of the land were animals and supernatural creatures. Some could take off their fur and feathers and assume human shape, while others remained in their supernatural form. One day a supernatural eagle, with the face of a man and an eagle’s beak, saw a whale in the water and seized it for his food. After a mighty struggle the eagle flipped the whale over and began to devour it, spilling the whale’s intestines into the water, where they became Yálátli Island. The eagle decided to live on this island, becoming human and taking the name Wígvilhba (Eagle-nose), which was passed down through generations to the Wígvilhba Wákas Chieftainship, today held by Chief Harvey Humchitt.


Estos dos pilares de casa, propiedad del clan águila Heiltsuk de Yálátli (Isla Ganso), presentan la siguiente historia de creación. En el comienzo de los tiempos, muchos habitantes de la tierra eran animales y criaturas sobrenaturales. Algunos podían sacarse la piel y plumas y asumir forma humana, en tanto otros permanecían en su forma sobrenatural. Un día, un águila sobrenatural con la cara de un hombre y pico de águila, vio una ballena en el agua y la atacó para comérsela. Después de una lucha poderosa, el águila volteó a la ballena y comenzó a devorarla, derramando sus intestinos en el agua, donde se convirtieron en la Isla Yálátli. El águila decidió vivir en esta isla, volviéndose humano y tomando el nombre Wígvilhba (Nariz de Aguila), el cual fue heredado por generaciones por la jefatura Wígvilhba Wákas, hoy llevada por el Jefe Harvey Humchitt.

MEDIUM Cedar wood
DATES 19th century
DIMENSIONS 98 x 35 1/4 x 17 1/2in. (248.9 x 89.5 x 44.5cm)  (show scale)
COLLECTIONS Arts of the Americas
MUSEUM LOCATION This item is on view in Arts of the Americas Galleries, 5th Floor
ACCESSION NUMBER 11.700.1
CREDIT LINE Museum Expedition 1911, Museum Collection Fund
RIGHTS STATEMENT Creative Commons-BY
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CAPTION Heiltsuk (Bella Bella) (Native American). House Post, from a Set of Four, 19th century. Cedar wood, 98 x 35 1/4 x 17 1/2in. (248.9 x 89.5 x 44.5cm). Brooklyn Museum, Museum Expedition 1911, Museum Collection Fund, 11.700.1. Creative Commons-BY (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 11.700.1_installation_SL1.jpg)
IMAGE installation, 11.700.1_installation_SL1.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph
"CUR" at the beginning of an image file name means that the image was created by a curatorial staff member. These study images may be digital point-and-shoot photographs, when we don\'t yet have high-quality studio photography, or they may be scans of older negatives, slides, or photographic prints, providing historical documentation of the object.
CATALOGUE DESCRIPTION This is a house post made of cedar wood, dark and unpainted. Two figures: supernatural bird, probably a thunderbird, holds a small humanoid figure to its chest area in front of a shield called a "copper". The Supernatural bird has a beak as well as humanoid ears and mouth. The frontal figures are carefully carved in high relief. The back is roughly carved and relatively flat. Condition: The best of the set of four. (see 11.700.2-.3-.4) There are several cracks that include many large vertical cracks, abrasions, losses, scratches, and surface wear. In some areas the wood is weak due to rot and insect damage. There are iron hooks on the back, top and bottom, evidently from a former mount.
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