Flickr user CanadaGood’s pictures of poles

Fallen pole at Gitsegulka. Source: flickr.com user CanadaGood.

Someone posting under the username “CanadaGood” at flickr.com has put up an impressive array of over 100 photos of “totem poles”.  What I like about this set is that most of these are not the iconic ones from coffee table books or museums but rather are still standing (or lying) in communities, mostly along the Skeena River.  They aren’t the most technically accomplished photos or anything but they are undeniably atmospheric and they document the process of renewal and decay of poles which was an important part of the carving complex.  Each pole is the material instance of the right to carve and display a set of crests or images, often as a memorial to a dead person of high status, and therefore the “thing” must be set against the intangible, non-material property of rights and titles which it represents.  Proper treatment of the pole might therefore well include letting it return to the earth, replaced by a fresher copy.  I like the matter of fact way this one is set up on stumps and this rotting masterpiece at Gitanyow.  This figure is unusual for being “sculpture in the round”.   Kudos to CanadaGood for putting pictures of these less commonly seen poles on flickr, in high resolution, and under a Creative Commons licence to boot.

Tops of standing poles at Gitsegulka. Source: flickr user CanadaGood.

3 responses to “Flickr user CanadaGood’s pictures of poles

  1. Thanks for the compliments on my CanadaGood efforts. (My cheeks are blushing).
    I have been doing research and eventually wish to make proper individual comments for each pole.
    You will note some of my totem pole pictures were taken more than thirty years ago. Many of the ones that I took in 2007 were done in falling rain or staring into the sun.
    I sometimes think of totem pole carving as a performance art where the last act is an eventual return to the forest floor. That is a great concept but there a great danger that the performance cycle will be broken as the old carvers die out.
    I don’t think that the Canadian public, government or academic establishment give these wonderful objects the value and care that they are due.

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  2. Hi Gregory,

    Thanks for posting and thanks for your nice set of pictures.

    There has been a lot of hits today from the “Pagans for Archaeology” facebook group:
    http://www.facebook.com/pages/Pagans-for-Archaeology/32777950029?ref=sgm

    So we have them to thank as well!

    Tomorrow’s post on this blog includes info on Gitsegulka so that might be of interest to you.

    q.

    Like

  3. Hi Gregory:

    Your images are wonderful–very, very evocative and unusual. Looking at these poles, I’d love to know a little more about the carvers. Thanks so much for posting these images and sharing them with the rest of us.

    Like

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