Alaska Native Collections – Sharing Knowledge

 

Chest

gud sgúnulaas “blanket chest”
Language: Haida

[Master Carpenter] got up and said to him, “Come, chief, my child, let me dress you up.” Then he went to him and he put fair-weather clouds upon his face. “Now, chief, my son, come and sit idle seaward.” As soon as he did so, the weather was good.

—from “How Shining-Heavens Caused Himself to Be Born,” told by Walter McGregor, in “Haida Myths and Texts,” 1905

This chest for storing ceremonial regalia belonged to Gida’nsta, chief of Skedans. The front panel shows Raven grasping two human figures dressed in rod armor. The image on the side panels is probably Xyuu, Southeast Wind, whose ten brothers were clouds. One of them, Cirrus Clouds, may be represented here by eyes and feathers on either side of Raven. Cirrus clouds were the potlatch attire of Tangghwan Llaana (Sea Dweller), the supreme ocean spirit, who belonged to the Raven moiety, and were also thought to represent bird-skin clothing that Shining Heavens, a sky deity, put on to bring fair weather.

Culture: Haida
Region: Queen Charlotte Islands, British Columbia, Canada
Village: Skedans
Object Category: Baskets, bags, boxes
Dimensions: Length 134cm
Accession Date: 1883
Source: James G. Swan (collector)
Museum: National Museum of Natural History
Museum ID Number: E089034