Gabriola Petroglyph Design Elements. Source: Adams 2003.
One recent M.A. thesis I was really looking forward to reading is by Amanda Adams entitled Visions cast on stone : a stylistic analysis of the petroglyphs of Gabriola Island, B.C., from UBC Anthropology 2003, and available for free download here.
I was particularly interested to read the instructions she received on proper deportment when visiting the rock art:
Sites were visited in a manner and with a personal code of conduct adhering to Snuneymuxw wishes. Petroglyph sites were not visited at either dawn or dusk. A respectful demeanor was expected as was an “open heart and mind” (Bill Seward, Snuneymuxw elder, personal communication 2002). I was asked to give my full attention to the petroglyphs and their sacredness, not allowing daily distractions to interfere with my concentration on the ancient imagery. These expectations were met to the best of my ability. (18-19)
While many archaeologists are under the impression that there is little to no ethnographic information about petroglyphs, I have long felt that more likely such knowledge is private or highly privileged and not readily shareable. In this self-serving sense, it was gratifying to see that Adams was able to record some such information:
Snuneymuxw Elder, Bill Seward, asserts that many petroglyphs were made by shamans, hunters and vision seekers (personal communication 2002) while Elder Ellen White maintains that the carvings were places where people both sought and gained power. She explained that “men would be stripped – even in cold weather and laid on top of each petroglyph – learning the spirit world, connecting to the area.” She also noted that the pitted ‘dots’ surrounding several of the carvings were “points of access”, places where one could dip their fingers into pools of “energy” and reservoirs of strength (Archaeology Forum group tour 2002). (p 13)
Another welcome aspect of Adams’ thesis is her direct comparison to portable art. Continue reading →
Posted in anthropology, Archaeology, dSpace, First Nations, Northwest Coast, Vancouver Island
Tagged art, dSpace, Gabriola Island, Gulf Islands, Marpole, Northwest Coast, petroglyphs, rock art, Salish Sea, Snuneymuxw
Descanso Bay Rock Art, 1792. Source: U. Washington
From the University of Washington, an unexpected image of a large Gabriola Island rockshelter containing rock art, entititled:
Northwest Coast carvings on cliff near Descanso Bay, Gabriola Island, British Columbia, in engraving made 1792.
Cardero, Jose, b. 1767 or 8
Notes: Photograph of engraving of explorers and indians viewing a carved head and other petroglyphs on the side of a cliff. The caption says it is a view of a natural gallery, one hundred feet long, and ten feet wide near Descanso Bay.
Caption on image: Vista de una galeria natural, ce cien pies de largo y diez de ancho, en la inmediacion del puerto del Descanso, en el estrecho de Juan de Fuca Image from Alessandro Malaspina’s Viaje politico-cientifico alrededor del mundo, 1885, f.p. 200
I presume this is the “Malaspina Galleries” near the ferry terminal – I didn’t know there was rock art there though and maybe there isn’t, anymore. Perhaps this place, or this one? Or, perhaps the unusual pitted and pocked natural sandstone fooled the Spanish, though it sure looks like there is a large image in the middle of that engraving. Quick, Gabriolans, trot down there and check it out.
Malaspina Galleries, Gabriola Island. Photo: Kevin Oke.
Posted in Archaeology, First Nations, history, Northwest Coast, Vancouver Island
Tagged Gabriola Island, Malaspina, petroglyphs, pictographs, rock art, Salish Sea, Snuneymuxw, Spain
Gabriola Petroglyph. Source: The Gabriolan.ca
Another blog linked to me the other day: The Gabriolan. This is a lovely blog, whose mysterious author has a great eye for the quirky and beautiful things about that Island. I especially like the various pictures of unusual things found in the woods, like antlers on trees. On my quick browse through the site I noted the excellent photograph of a Gabriola Island petroglyph which I am posting above. This is not a petroglyph I am familiar with though I don’t have my books in front of me. I’ll look it up. With its double-rendered eyes and protruding ears, it may be Mouse-Woman. But anyway, anonymous Gabriolan, thanks for the link, and look after those petroglyphs.
Anthropomorphic petroglyph on Gabriola Island. Note how the patina of the rock has been disturbed by tracing.
Gabriola Island has some of the most spectacular and important petroglyphs in the world — and unfortunately, they are just as threatened by developers and development pressures, as I have noted before. Since these sites seem to not always matter as much as I think they should, it is nice to see an awestruck first person account by a person with no vested interest. Why on earth would those who purport to love and respect Gabriola Island and Snuneymuxw culture be so intent on diminishing this kind of experience?
Even so, I must comment on the destructive practice of rubbing, not so much through cloth but the scraping of the lines to remove weathering patina and lichen in order to take clearer photographs. This is a very unfortunate practice which hastens the disintegration of the rock art.