Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Pole Raising Continued.....

Xaad Xilaa Gyaahlaang Gyaa'aang
Haida Medicine Story Pole

Before I start the description of this pole I must apologize for not having a "free" photo (free of ropes) of this pole. By the time we left the feast it was too dark to get a photo so it will have to wait until I am in Old Masset again. ~ Carolyn

First Figure(above and below ropes): Chiefs Son. He is wearing a bear headdress and holding a copper shield. He has gone to Taan(bear) Mountain to fast. He also takes Devils Club for ten days. During the purification he recieves a visition, a song, names, story or something valuable. The copper is a symbol of wealth. It has a carving of Devil's Club on it.

Second Figure: Mouse Woman, Kagan Jaad. She is a little lady. She gives medicine and advise to the hero of the story for help she has recieved.

Third Figure: The Shaman is a person who can travel to the world of the Supernaturals. He is wearing a crown of mountain goat horns and a cedar bark headband. He has a bone in his nose.

Fourth Figures: The Watchmen (in the hands of the Shaman), they hold the future of Haida Gwaii. These Watchmen represent the communities of Old Masset, Masset and Port Clements coming together to build the Northern Haida Gwaii Hospital.

Fifth Figure: Is The Sacred One Standing and Moving. He wears Wasco, seawolf ears with pilot whales inside to represent the Wasco skin he wore for protection in his ordeal to hold up Haida Gwaii. He also wears a Raven's Tail blanket with designs. When he gets up to move there is an earthquake.

His sister is a supernatural creek woman. Her name is Elder Berry Flute Player. When there is an earthquake the Raven says, "Don't spill the duck grease".

You need to know the legends to fully understand what all these figures represent and only the Haida can truly appreciate what they mean but I am so honoured that they are shared with us.

Please click on photos to help identify figures on the pole and see previous post for the pole raising. ~ Carolyn


Cedar ... said...

Thank you for explaining the carvings on the pole. It's fascinating. I wish I had stories from my great-great grandmothers people. But alas, nothing. From north of St.Lawrence River,.. guessing Mohawk or Algonquin.

Janie said...

Fascinating to see the sculpture and learn a little about it. We have a Ute tribe in this area and I always find their legends and ceremonies interesting.

Glennis said...

Thanks it is interesting to be read these totems amazing that there is so much in just one pole.
Our Maoris do carve poles but smaller and different.

VioletSky said...

Very interesting to read about the symbolism of each figure. One can admire the carving and the beauty of the pole, but so much is lost when you don't understand what is behind the carvings. So, thank you!

ms toast burner said...

Thanks for translating the story told in the pole. It really is a gorgeous one...

Powell River Books said...

What a wonderful experience and a beautiful pole. We have several around town from the Sliammon First Nation. There are so many great communities along our coast to explore. Must feel good to be home! - Margy

Deborah Godin said...

This is the best explanation of a pole I've ever had, thanks so much, it makes it come alive!


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