Monumental Art of Tanu

TanuMapHaidaMonumentalArtMap of Tanu Village from Haida Monumental Art.

The house numbers below correspond to the above labelled model.

House 1 House 9 House 17
House 2 House 10 House 18
House 3 House 11 House 19
House 4 House 12 House 20
House 5 House 13 House 21
House 6 House 14 House 22
House 7 House 15 House 23
House 8 House 16 House 24

Please click on the thumbnails of each monument to view a full-size photograph of it.

House 1: Last House

Last House was named for its position at the end of the house row. In the 1878 Dawson photograph a type 1 house frame is shown with the frontal pole lying in the grass nearby. Shortly thereafter a new type 2 house was built by another family further back on the same site (see House 2).

House 2

Frontal Pole 2Unknown photographer, 1907 (BCA 13754).

Frontal Pole 2

Crests on the frontal pole:

1. (top) three watchmen

2. eagle with a small face on the tail

3. owl

4. killer whale, holding its own tail in its mouth

5. grizzly bear holding a frog

The pole was taken to Prince Rupert in 1939 and was transferred to the Royal British Columbia Museum (at the time, the British Columbia Provincial Museum), Victoria, in 1965.

House 3: Eagle House

Eagle House may have been the name of an earlier house on this site, since Swanton’s informants claim it had an eagle over the door instead of a frontal pole. By 1878, a house with a frontal pole stood on the site.

Frontal Pole 3G.M. Dawson, 1878 (PAC 242).
Frontal Pole 3Frontal Pole 3 is on the left. Photograph by Werner, 1904 (SLUW).

Frontal Pole 3

 

Crests on the frontal pole:

1. (top) three watchmen

2. eagle

3. small killer whale with protruding dorsal fin and a small human figure with potlatch cylinder holding the tail

4. owl

5. grizzly bear holding a frog

Mortuary 3XPhotograph by G.M. Dawson, 1878 (PAC 242).
Mortuary 3XPhotograph by C.F. Newcombe, 1902 (Enlargement of RBCM E284-IV/39).

Mortuary 3X. 

This was a mortuary post erected for “Water”; the front plaque shows traces of paint in Dawson’s 1878 photograph. The post had a raven carved at the top and a killer whale below.

House 4: House Dress Up (To Show Off All the Time)

Frontal Pole 4G.M. Dawson, 1878 (PAC 242).

Frontal Pole 4

Crests on the frontal pole:

1. (top) three watchmen, the central one with a killer whale dorsal fin (crest 4) on its head

2. owl, with an inverted human figure

3. supernatural snag holding a frog

4. killer whale (completed by top figure), with an entryway between its fins

Mortuary 4XPhotograph by G.M. Dawson, 1878 (PAC 242).

Mortuary 4X 

This mortuary post was plain except for the carved head of a cormorant on the front plaque.

House 5: House-hole House 

House-hole House was on the site traditionally reserved for the town chief’s house. A house of this importance frequently had several ceremonial names, used as occasion demanded. Among those recorded for this house site are: Potlatch is Slowly Moving (implying that the house was so large that the potlatch was long); Cave House; Moving across Deep Cellar.The house pit was large and had several levels, as befitted a chief of Klue’s standing.

Frontal Pole 5AG.M. Dawson, 1878 (PAC 242).

Frontal Pole 5A 

Crests on the original frontal pole:

1. (top) three watchman figures

2. series of twelve potlatch cylinders with three human figures clinging to each side, and White Raven (story figure) on top

3. Qingi (story figure) wearing a hat decorated with three frogs and holding a small bear and a human figure

Frontal Pole 5BFrontal Pole 5b is the tall pole on the right side of the photograph. Photograph by Werner, 1904 (SLUW).

Frontal Pole 5B

Crests on the replacement frontal pole:

1. (top) White Raven

2. series of nineteen potlatch cylinders with a human figure on top and four human figures clinging to each side

3. Qingi wearing a hat decorated with three frogs and holding a small bear and a human figure

4. raven with a long, projecting beak

Memorial 5M1Photograph by unknown photographer, 1907 (BCA 13754).
Memorial 5M1Photograph by C.F. Newcombe, 1902 (RBCM E284-IV/39).

Memorial 5M1

 

This memorial, erected shortly after 1878, depicted the story of a dogfish with the beak of a thunderbird. A tall rectangular shaft above the head of the dogfish represented its body, and a small raven was perched on the top. The memorial was raised by the wife of the former town chief in his memory. In accordance with Haida custom, she joined the family of the new chief as one of his wives.

Memorial 5M2G.M. Dawson, 1878 (PAC 242).

Memorial 5M2

A memorial with a beaver at the base and twelve potlatch cylinders above was erected before 1878 in memory of an earlier Gitkun who was killed at Fort Rupert. One of his coppers was nailed to the pole just above the beaver.

Mortuary House 5MH

Gitkun’s mortuary house stood behind House 5.


House 6: Sea Lion House 

Sea Lion House was named, according to Swanton, from the house pole, but more likely it was named for the mortuary beside it, which had at the top a sea lion helmet.

Frontal Pole 6C.F. Newcombe, 1907.

Frontal Pole 6

Crests on the frontal pole:

1. (top) three watchmen

2. eagle

3. bear holding a frog in its mouth

4. supernatural snag holding a raven with an inverted human figure in its beak

5. whale

Mortuary 6X1G.M. Dawson, 1878.
Mortuary 6X1C.F. Newcombe, 1907.

Mortuary 6X1 

A mortuary was erected here for a member of Those Who are Successful Fishermen. On the front plaque was a supernatural snag, and on the post a thunderbird. In the 1878 photograph it appears to be newly erected.

Mortuary 6X2G.M. Dawson, 1878 (PAC 242).

Mortuary 6X2

This old mortuary post was built for a member of Those Who are Successful Fishermen. It was an unusual style of mortuary with no front plaque. The dimensions of the post suggest that a chamber for the coffin was carved out of the top of the post and capped by the sea lion helmet inlaid with abalone shell, followed by a cumulous cloud (in human form), and, at the base, a supernatural snag holding a bear.

Mortuary 6X3Photograph by G.M. Dawson, 1878 (PAC 242).
Mortuary 6X3Carmichael, 1901 (Enlargement of RBCM E435-IV/69).

Mortuary 6X3

This old mortuary was erected for an earlier Skitgades. On the front plaque was the beak of a small bird, possibly a hummingbird, which was one of his crests. On the post was a thunderbird at the top and a killer whale at the base. The double dorsal fins of the supernatural killer whale appeared above the front plaque.

Memorial 6M1Carmichael, 1901 (RBCM E435-IV/69).
Memorial 6M1C.M. Barbeau, 1947 (CMC 102746).

Memorial 6M1

This memorial, erected after 1878, was for the mother of the last Skitgades. On the top of the plain pole were a thunderbird and a whale.

Memorial 6M2Carmichael, 1901 (Enlargement of RBCM E435-IV/69).
Memorial 6M2G.M. Dawson, 1878 (PAC 242).

Memorial 6M2 

Similar to 6M1, this old memorial was erected by the mother of the last Skitgades.

Manda 6MA1G.M. Dawson, 1878 (PAC 242).

Manda 6MA1 

On the ground was a beaver figure of the manda type to hold the coffin of an earlier Skitgades during its temporary storage in the mortuary house. It shows only in the 1878 Dawson photograph.

Manda 6MA2C.F. Newcombe, 1902 (BCPM E232).

Manda 6MA2

This memorial, a rare type, was similar to a manda since it rested on the ground. Erected after 1878 for a brother of Skitgades who drowned while hunting fur seal, it depicted a thunderbird clutching a whale.

House 7a: Shining House 

Two houses have been recorded on this site, both of which belonged to the Djigua Town People. The first, Shining House, is shown on Dawson’s 1878 photograph.

Frontal Pole 7

Frontal Pole 7 

Crests on the frontal pole:

1. (top) three figures. The central one is a watchman with an unusually elaborate helmet decorated with a crest figure; the side figures are killer whales in human form with dorsal fins on their heads

2. cormorant with beak hanging down

3. supernatural snag

4. killer whale (completed by the killer whale figures at the top)

House 7b: Favourite House of Assembly

The second house on this site, Favourite House of Assembly, was erected sometime before 1885.

Frontal Pole 7BFrontal pole 7B standing in the Smithsonian Institution. W. Duff, year unknown.

Frontal Pole 7B

Crests on the frontal pole:

1. (top) separate carving of an eagle

2. two watchmen on either side of a small frog with large potlatch cylinders

3. cormorant

4. sea grizzly

5. killer whale

6. beaver with four potlatch cylinders

This pole was removed from Tanu for the 1904 World’s Fair in St. Louis and was later sent to the Smithsonian Institution.

House 8: House That Makes a Noise

Frontal Pole 8Carmichael, 1901 (Enlargement of RBCM E435-IV/69).

Frontal Pole 8

Crests on the frontal pole:

1. (top) three watchmen, the central one wearing a crest helmet

2. raven

3. story figure

4. story figures – a shaman with bear-claw crown, holding two small figures

5. story figure Tsimshian chief with eyes hanging from their sockets.

House 9: Sound of Clouds Rolling Upon It

Frontal Pole 9C.F. Newcombe, 1907 (BCA 13756).

Frontal Pole 9 

Crests on the frontal pole:

1. (top) three watchmen, the central one with dorsal fin of killer whale (crest 2)

2. killer whale

3. supernatural snag

4. killer whale

5. human story figure

Memorial 9MG.M. Dawson, 1878 (PAC 242).

Memorial 9M

A memorial pole with a watchman holding four small human figures at the top, separated by a plain shaft from a killer whale figure at the base.

House 10: Property House

Frontal Pole 10C.F. Newcombe, 1901 (RBCM).

Frontal Pole 10 

Crests on the frontal pole:

1. (top) three watchmen

2. eagle

3. story figure of Tsimshian sea-chief/sea anemone (see House 8)

4. killer whale whose head, arms, legs, and pectoral fins are at the base. The body of the killer whale extends above with a woman in its mouth clutching its tail

This pole was collected by Newcombe for the Smithsonian Institution.

Mortuary 10XG.M. Dawson, 1878 (Enlargement of PAC 242).

Mortuary 10X

This fluted mortuary post had a painted front plaque.

House 11: House That Makes a Noise

Frontal Pole 11C.F. Newcombe, 1901 (RBCM E46)
Frontal Pole 11C.M. Barbeau, 1947 (CMC 102731).

Frontal Pole 11

Crests on the frontal pole:

1. (top) three watchmen

2. horned owl

3. story figure of Tsimshian sea-chief/sea anemone (see House 8) holding a hair seal

4. story figure of Nansimget’s wife holding onto the tail of killer whale (crest 5)

5. killer whale with human body devouring a seal

This pole was removed from Tanu in 1954 and is now in the British Columbia Provincial Museum, Victoria. A copy of this pole made by Henry Hunt stands in Thunderbird Park, Victoria.

House 12: House Where There is Always Plenty of Food

Frontal Pole 12C.F. Newcombe, 1901 (RBCM E46).

Frontal Pole 12 

Crests on the frontal pole:

1. (top) three watchmen

2. eagle

3. human figure holding a child, relating to a myth

4. story figure

5. killer whale

House 13: House with Fire Always Burning

Frontal Pole 13C.F. Newcombe, 1901 (RBCM E46).

Frontal Pole 13

Crests on the frontal pole:

1. (top) three watchmen

2. eagle

3. supernatural snag

4. killer whale with woman clutching its tail and a second inverted human figure supporting two dorsal fins

House 13A

A house frame only; the frontal pole does not appear in Dawson’s photograph of 1878.

House 14: Easy to Enter House

Frontal Pole 14C.F. Newcombe, 1907 (BCA 13755).

Frontal Pole 14

Crests on the frontal pole:

1. (top) separate carving of a horned owl
2. eagle with potlatch cylinders
3. cormorant
4. killer whale
5. grizzly bear

According to Newcombe the exterior of the house was named separately for each side, one side bearing the name Landslide House and the other Land Otter House. At the back of the house was an interior pole that belonged to the wife and employed the crests of the chief’s family of Skedans, having a sea grizzly at the top and a grizzly bear at the base. A long carved spiral stick like a narwhal tusk was originally inserted in the pole between the two figures; it was used by the chief at potlatches and feasts to strike the ground for emphasis during his speeches. This pole was purchased from Paul Jones of Skidegate and sent by Newcombe to the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago. It was subsequently sold. The talking stick is still in the Field Museum.

House 14A: The House Pole Looks Down

The House Pole Looks Down stood on higher ground on the boundary between the two segments of the village. The frontal pole disappeared long ago, but other features of the house are well preserved as a result of its sheltered position away from the beach.

House 15: Something Terrible Happened House

Frontal Pole 15Photographer and year unknown (RBCM PN5530).

Frontal Pole 15 

Crests on the frontal pole:

1. (top) separate carving of a wolf

2. supernatural snag with potlatch cylinders

3. killer whale

4. story figure

5. beaver

This pole was taken to Prince Rupert in 1939; in 1971 it was transferred to the British Columbia Provincial Museum, Victoria.

Mortuary 15XC.F. Newcombe, 1907 (BCA 13755).
Mortuary 15XPhotographer and year unknown (CMC J-10396).

Mortuary 15X

This mortuary post was erected for a woman of the Djigua town People who was shot while passing the San Juan Islands. Her body was burnt and taken back to Tanu. On the front plaque is a thunderbird, and standing over it is a separate carving of an eagle. On the post is the baleen whale at the top and the beaver at the base. This pole was purchased in 1911 by Newcombe for the British Columbia Provincial Museum, Victoria.

House 16: Strong House

Frontal Pole 16C.F. Newcombe, 1901 (RBCM E44 PN100)

Frontal Pole 16

Crests on the frontal pole:

1. (top) separate carving of a horned owl

2. three watchmen

3. eagle

4. cormorant

5. killer whale

6. beaver 

This pole was removed by Newcombe for the Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto. It no longer has the owl on top.

Memorial 16MC.M. Barbeau, 1947 (CMC 102743).

Memorial 16M

A memorial to “Prince capsized himself” was raised by his brother, Nespalas, who aspired to his brother’s title. At the base is a beaver with a tall column of potlatch cylinders rising above it. A copper was nailed to the first potlatch cylinder.

Interior Pole 16C.F. Newcombe, 1903 (BCPM E281).

Interior Pole 16

Inside the house were two unusual carved posts, each representing a supernatural snag with potlatch cylinders, which belonged to Naspala’s wife. These were placed at the back of the house under the central pair of rafters. Newcombe purchased both and sent one to the Field Museum of Natural History and the other to the Smithsonian Institution.

House 17: Eagle House

Eagle House was owned by “Like a spine” of the Djigua Town People. His wife was Taoguiat of Those Born at Qadasgo Creek. This house replaced an earlier one called Fort Simpson House, which had figures of white men carved on the two posts nearest the door; it, in turn, replaced a still earlier house of the same name that was stockaded like the Hudson’s Bay Company fort at Fort Simpson.

Frontal Pole 17Photographer and year unknown.
Frontal Pole 17Photographer and year unknown (BM LXXXV1/2).

Frontal Pole 17

Crests on the frontal pole:

1. (top) eagle

2. baleen whale

The pole was sent by Newcombe to the British Museum. The ends of the central beams of the house, carved to resemble sea lions, were sent to the British Columbia Provincial Museum, Victoria.

House 18: House Toward the Water

House toward the Water belonged to the Djigua Town People. The name seems inappropriate to this house, which is in the middle of a house row, no closer to the water than the others. It is either a mismatch of the house name or a traditional name inherited from another house where it was descriptive of the house location.

Frontal Pole 18Photographer unknown, 1907 (BCA 13757).

Frontal Pole 18 

Crests on the frontal pole:

1. (top) three watchmen

2. eagle

3. cormorant

4. supernatural snag

5. obscured by vegetation

Memorial 18MPhotographer unknown, 1907 (BCA 13757).

Memorial 18M

A memorial column, rectangular in cross section, symbolizing a killer whale dorsal fin, is surmounted by a figure of a chief with a tall hat, on which sat a separate carving of a raven holding a copper.

House 19: Property is in the House

Frontal Pole 19Photographer unknown, 1907 (BCA 13757).

Frontal Pole 19

Crests on the frontal pole:

1. (top) three watchmen

2. eagle

3. supernatural snag

4. obscured by vegetation

House 20: Eagle Leg House

Frontal Pole 20Unknown photographer and year (BCA 34321).

Frontal Pole 20

Crests on the frontal pole:

1. (top) three watchmen

2. eagle

3. rainbow

4. beaver

 

This pole is now in the British Columbia Provincial Museum, Victoria.

House 21: Property House 

The frontal pole had disappeared by 1903, and only traces of the house timbers remained. A small stream passes to the east of this house.

House 22: Cloudy House 

Only remnants of the house timbers remained in 1903.

House 23: House Always Looking for Visitors 

This section of the village was heavily overgrown by vegetation in 1907.

Frontal Pole 23Photographer and year unknown (BCPA 24591).
Frontal Pole 23C.F. Newcombe, year unknown (BCA 34320).

Frontal Pole 23

Crests on the frontal pole:

1. (top) three watchmen

2. eagle

3. beaver

4. whale

5. grizzly bear

In carving style and crest figures it is very similar to the frontal pole of House 2.

House 24: Plenty of Tliman Hides in this House

The meaning of tliman is not known.

Frontal Pole 24C.M. Barbeau, 1947 (CMC 102737).
Frontal Pole 24C.M. Barbeau, 1947 (CMC 102723).

Frontal Pole 24

Crests on the frontal pole:

1. (top) three watchmen

2. eagle

3. cormorant

4. grizzly bear

Manda 24MA

The crest figure of a beaver, a two-metre long manda from a mortuary house was placed next to this house.

Textual Information for this page: MacDonald, 1983; Newcombe, Field Notes 1897-1912.

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