Monumental Art of Ans'pa Yaw

Original locations of poles and monuments at Ans'pa yaxw Village based on a map by C.M. Barbeau ca. 1920. The large rectangles indicate the original traditional style plank houses; the small rectangles indicate early graves; and the numbered circles correspond to the poles and monuments. The area highlighted in orange on the satellite image (courtesy of Google Maps) shows the approximate location of the original village. Within this area is also the modern location of the village's totem poles. Not shown on this map are two village cemeteries.

Photograph by H.I. Smith, 1915.

1. Standing-Bear pole of Chief Ksemqaqhl.

At the top of the pole is the Dragon-Fly or Horse-Fly. Next is the Tree-Dweller who has a long, bird-like nose, and then Large-Belly or Drum-Belly, who is depicted with human features. Then there appears to be another Tree-Dweller also with a long, bird-like nose, and then at the base of the pole is the Standing-Bear.
 
This pole stands at the entrance of the village on the side closest to the Kispiox River. This pole was erected around 1870-1880 in memory of Amagyet by the person who took on the name (William Ellis). Haqu of the Larhsail phratry carved the pole.

 

2. On-it-Sits-the-Cormorant pole of Chief Xkadet.

At the top of the pole sits a Cormorant, which is separated from the next figures by a large section of plain pole. Next are two large Cormorants, then an Eagle, and at the base of the pole is the Grizzly-Bear.

The pole was erected in memory of Xkadet around 1880.

Photograph on the left by G.T. Emmons, 1909.
Photograph on the right by C.M. Barbeau, 1920.

3. The Frog-Pole of Chief Ma’us.

At the top of the pole sits a Raven, which is followed by about 7 to 8 feet of undecorated pole. Then there is a Person-of-the-Smoke-Hole or Man-Looking-Down-the-Smoke-Hole, followed by a Frog or Tadpole with its head down. Next there is a Woodpecker or Real-Woodpecker, a Man-of-the-Smoke-Hole, and at the base of the pole are the Frogs-Jammed-Up. The first frog is facing down, the second facing to the left side of the pole, and then the bottom frog is facing up.

Photograph on the left by H.I. Smith, 1915.
Photograph on the right by G.T. Emmons, 1909.
Photograph by G.T. Emmons, 1910.

4. Leading-In pole of Chief Qel.

At the top of the pole is a small human figure called Leading-In, followed by a short section of plain pole, then a Grizzly-Bear-Woman. Next is Dzaraurhlaw, a mythological person with a long, beak-like nose. Then there is another possible Grizzly-Bear-Woman and then Leading-In at the base of the pole.
 
The pole was raised around 1870 in memory of a former Qel. The pole was thought to have been carved by Wosemlaxe.

 

5. The Big-Snake or Great-Snake pole of Chief Qel.

The whole length of the pole is painted to represent the body of the snake with its head facing down at the bottom. The snakes tongue is out and is in the shape of a human head.

The Blackfish Monument and the Grizzly-Bear-of-the-Water or Sea-Monster Monument are side by side on a platform between Qel’s two totem poles (The Big-Snake and Leading-In totem pole to its right).

Photograph on the left by H.I. Smith, 1915.
Photograph on the right by G.T. Emmons, 1910.
Photograph by L. Shotridge, 1918.

6. The Blackfish Monument of Chief Qel.

This monument was carved by Tsinleq of the Wolf phratry of Kispiox around 1910 in memory of the former Qel.

 

7. The Grizzly Bear of the Water or Sea Monster Monument of Chief Qel.

The monument is a carved grizzly bear figure with a protruding fin. The monument was carved by Tsinleq of the Wolf phratry of Kispiox around 1910 in memory of a former Qel. This crest was acquired from the Kitselas branch of this house (Niesawak).

8. The Grizzly-of-the-Sun pole of Chief Tatq. 

At the top of the pole sits an Owl. There is a plain section followed by the Grizzly-Bear with the sun around his neck. At the base of the pole are five small people around the pole or People-Around, and then at the base is a second Owl.

The pole was erected around 1890 in memory of a previous Tatq, and was carved by Tsinleq (James Green) Wolf phratry.

Photographs by G.T. Emmons, 1910.
Photograph by G.T. Emmons, 1910.
Photograph by L. Shotridge, unknown year.

9. The White-Owl pole of Chief Tatq.

The pole consists of two large White-Owls, one above the other. The top owl has small humans inside his ears. Both owls have small humans on their heads, and there are also two small humans separating the owls on the sides of the pole. At the bottom of the pole there are three humans side by side. The humans in the middle and at the bottom are all decorated with Fern-Tendrils.
 
This is one of the oldest poles at Ans’pa yaxw as it was erected around 1870.
 
The original of this pole is now in the American Museum of Natural History in New York City.

 

Photograph by C.M. Barbeau, 1948.

10. Half-Way-Out pole of Chief Telramuk.

The pole is about 40 feet high, and is completely plain except for the squatting human figure at the base called Half-Way-Out.
 
The pole was carved around 1870-1875 by Wosemlaxe.

 

Photograph by C.M. Barbeau, 1924.

11.  Pole of Chief Wosemlaxe.

At the top of the pole is a small White-Owl leaning forward, followed by a large section of plain shaft. Next there is a second White-Owl with a kidnapped child in between its wings, a third White-Owl, and then the Mountain Fern crest. At the bottom of the pole is a fourth White-Owl.
 
The Mountain Fern is symbolic of the vegetation on the hunting territories in the mountains around Kispiox of this Chief.

 

Photograph by C.M. Barbeau, 1924.

12.  Sun-Dogs pole of Chief Wosemlaxe.

From the top: a Thunder-Bird with a human face; three rows of circles or Sun-Dogs; and at the bottom, checkers or the Mountain Fern emblem.
 
The pole was erected around 1900-1905 in memory of Gutkanuks, and was carved by Tsinleq (James Green).

13. The White-Owl pole of Chief Wosemlaxe.

The owl at the top is sitting on a square pedestal, and is separated from the three lower owls by a large space of plain pole. The three owls at the base are separated by two small, mask-like owl faces.

Erected by Wosemlaxe in memory of a former Wosemlaxe. The pole was carved by Kelgan of the Wolf phratry of Gitlaxdamsk village around 1855.

Photograph on the left by W. Duff, 1952.
Photograph on the right by Adelaide de Menil, 1968.
Photograph by C.M. Barbeau, 1948.

14. Running-Backwards Pole of Chief Kliyemlaxe.

At the base of the pole sits the only figure, Running-Backwards. It is said that there used to be a separately carved wolf attached to the pole above Running-Backward’s head in the carved out space, but that it fell off.
 
The pole was carved by Kun’aks around 1865.

Photograph by C.M. Barbeau, year unknown.

15. The Running-Backwards II pole of Chief Kliyemlaxe.

At the top of the pole was a wolf, horizontal to the pole. Then there is a portion of blank pole, followed by a Wolf with its head down, and then Running-Backwards. Next is Where-the-Hole-goes-Through, which is a small hole with four human figures around it. At the base of the pole is a second Running-Backwards.

Unknown photographer and year.

16. Tsenaanurh pole of Chief Kantu.

Depicted three times on the pole, at the top, centre and bottom, is Tsenaanurh, the mythological being by the name of ‘crazy’, shown in human form. Separating each Tsenaanurh is a Thunderbird.
 
The top Tsenaanurh is holding a small human that is wearing a crown of what appears to be claws.
 
The pole was raised around 1885 in memory of Kantu.

Photograph by G.T. Emmons, 1909.

17. Grizzly-Bear-of-the-Sea monument of Chief Kantu.

Carved by Tsinleq around 1900 in memory of Wiltsararh.

18. Prince-of-Blackfish pole of Chief Kantu.

At the top of the pole sits the thunderbird, Rskaimsem. Next is Tsenaanurh, a mythical being whose name means ‘crazy’, who is shown in human form. Next are three small children, then another Thunderbird holding a groundhog in his claws, and then two otters climbing down the pole. Then there is another human-form of Tsenaanurh, and at the bottom of the pole is the Prince-of-Blackfish with a long protruding fin.

Raised around 1875 in memory of a former Kantu.

Photographs by C.M. Barbeau, 1924.

18. Prince-of-Blackfish pole of Chief Kantu.

At the top of the pole sits the thunderbird, Rskaimsem. Next is Tsenaanurh, a mythical being whose name means ‘crazy’, who is shown in human form. Next are three small children, then another Thunderbird holding a groundhog in his claws, and then two otters climbing down the pole. Then there is another human-form of Tsenaanurh, and at the bottom of the pole is the Prince-of-Blackfish with a long protruding fin.
 
Raised around 1875 in memory of a former Kantu.

Photographs by C.M. Barbeau, 1924.
Unknown photographer and year.

19. Tall-Hat pole of Chief Qwaxski’k.

Contains a single human figure of a human sitting and wearing a high-conical hat on his head. Raised in memory of a former Qwaxski’k around 1865.

 

Photograph by G.T. Emmons, 1910.

20. Garment-of-Eagle-People pole of Chief Sqabeq.

At the top of the pole is attached a small-eagle, five small human beings dangle from its claws in a chain with Half-of-the-Bear jutting out of the pole at the base.
 
The pole was carved around 1905 by Genems of the Raven phratry of Gitanyow. The pole was raised in memory of Tsugyet.

21. Pole-of-Nigemks of Chief Haxqu.

The pole was erected around 1880 in memory of a previous Haxqu.

The upper half of the pole was left plain. Then there are Frogs-Jammed-Up, which are two frogs head down one below the other. Next there are cedar shingles shown as parallel lines (like those on houses of white people), and at the base of the pole is Sun-Shines-On or Nigemks, the mythical frog woman who was taken by the frogs, with small frogs (likely representing her offspring) on her eyes, breasts, hands and one crawling out of her mouth.
 
This pole was relocated to the Ball Park at Hazelton during an early restoration project led by Bill Sargent (Mayor of Hazelton at the time).

Photograph on left by C.M. Barbeau, 1920.
Photograph on right by G.T. Emmons, 1910.
Photograph by Adelaide de Menil, 1968.

22. Mountain Goat Monument of Chief Lilbecks.

Mountain-Goat tombstone of Lilbecks that replaced the Mountain-Goat pole. Carved out of marble stone is a Mountain-Goat that is upright with a single horn.
 
The origin of the mountain goat emblem came from a myth involving a young boy who saved a young mountain goat from children who were disrespecting and abusing the animals. The mountain goats, disguised as humans, brought the children to a mountain lodge for a feast. The one-horned mountain goat danced in the four corners of the house, and on the fourth corner, the house came crashing down, and all perished except the boy who saved the young goat. This myth is also related to how the ancestral town of Temlaham was destroyed by an earthquake.

This emblem is also used on the Pole-of-the-Moon at Gitsegukla.

23. Attacked-Within (Lutraisu) pole of Chief Nekt.

The pole was raised around 1880 in memory of a previous Nekt.

At the top of the pole sits the Eagle-Prince who is decorated with mother-of-pearl. There is a long portion of undecorated pole, followed by a Thunder-bird. At the base of the pole is the father of Nekt, a Haida chief named Kewok (Bull-Head). Kewok’s tongue is out as it had been when Lutraisu (Nekt’s mother) took his head for a trophy in revenge for him suffocating their children with his tongue. In Kewok’s arms is Lutraisu’s canoe that she escaped from Haida Gwaii in, which was carved separately and then attached to the pole.

Photographs by C.M. Barbeau, ca. 1924.

24. Pole of Chief Ksaxgo.

At the top is the Prince-of-Cormorants. Down the pole are marks representing the ribs of the bear, and at the base of the pole is the Ribbed-Bear.
 
Raised around 1880-1890.

Photograph on the left by C.M. Barbeau, 1920.
Photograph on right by H.I. Smith, 1926.
Photograph by C.M. Barbeau, ca. 1921.

This photograph shows the raising of the Pole of Chief Ksaxgo.

Textual Information for this page: Barbeau, 1929; G. MacDonald: National Historic Sites and Monuments Board Thematic Study: Aboriginal Peoples: Haida and Tsimshian. Note: Spellings of names and dates for the raising of poles based on Barbeau's work.