SGang Gwaay II


A mortuary pole at SGang Gwaay, visited while touring on the Passing Cloud.

SGang Gwaay is a UNESCO World Heritage Site located on the south west side of Gwaii Haanas (map link).

If you want to know more about SGang Gwaay I have written about it in several posts (link) from previous visits.




Canon 5Dii, EF 16-35/2.8 lens @32mm, ISO640, f8, 1/200th


5 thoughts on “SGang Gwaay II

  1. this pole is beautiful. I love them in their natural state. I live in Duncan where there are a lot of poles but they are kept freshly painted for the many tourists who come to “Duncan, the city of Totems”. I don’t know whether or not painting them is a tradition or if they should rather be natural.


    • Painting, or not painting, or partially painting poles is something that varies regionally along the coast, and also through time. In the 1800s there was some painting on some of the poles on the north coast (for instance), usually using black or red paint made with carbon/charcoal, red ochre and a binding agent of some kind like oil and fish eggs. Once commercial pigments and paints became available then some cultural groups or artists adopted additional colours and apparently painted more of the surfaces of individual poles and masks than had previously been the case.

      Since it was a cultural and artistic choice made by the different groups on the coast, and since such things evolve through time, and will continue to do so, it is not possible to say how something “should be” or even what is “traditional”. It’s a bit like considering that painting should be how it was done by the likes of Titian or Constable, and that the impressionists are not traditional artists.

      I don’t think that you are making such assertions, just asking questions by way of learning, so please don’t be offended by my answer.

      Liked by 1 person

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