Totem Poles

"Let this book [Totem Poles] be a memorial
to the native artists of the
north Pacific Coast!

Their genius has produced monumental works of art
on a par with the most
original the world has
ever known."

M. Barbeau, 1950

Right: Totem Pole Gallery
Museum of Anthropology
University of British Columbia

Visitors in the Grand Hall of Totem Poles and Northwest Coast Art, Canadian Museum of Civilization, 2009

"Totem Poles" was published as two volumes in 1950 in Ottawa, Canada, by the Department of Resources and Development and the National Museum of Canada. It was digitalized by the Canadian Museum of Civilization:

Totem Poles Vol. I This volume examines totem poles in according to crests and topics including: The Eagle; The Shark; The Beaver, Thunderbird, The Salmon Totems, Bear Mother, The Wolf, The Killer Whale, Sea Monsters, The Raven, The Cannibal or Mosquito, The Mountain Goat, Ridicule or Discredit poles; and The White Man.

Totem Poles Vol. II
This volume examines totem poles according to geographical location and includes additional subjects such as: Synthesis and Compilation; The Growth of Totem Pole Carving; and Conservation and Restoration.

The classic scholarly work "Totem Poles" by Marius Barbeau presents the research he conducted from 1915 to 1947 on the Northwest Coast. Barbeau served for many years as director of the Museum of Civilization.

Of great value are the book's frontispiece maps of which show the geographical location of the coastal First Nations villages. These are divided into nine distinct cultural and biogeographical areas: Tlingit, Haida (Kaigani); Haida; Tsimsyan (Niska); Tsimsyan proper; Tsimsyan (Gitksan); Kwakiutl; Nootka; and Salish. Within these regions Barbeau's map identifies by number the 84 indigenous villages which produced totem poles.

Each chapter of "Totem Poles" is illustrated by photos taken by Barbeau. Volume One has 186 photos; Volume Two has 374 photos. The photos are of special value as in many instances they are the only remaining documentation of the ancient indigenous villages and settlements, apart from the totem poles and other cultural objects that ended up in museums and private collections across the world.

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