Item 170 - Kwakiutl housepost at Knight's Inlet

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Kwakiutl housepost at Knight's Inlet

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CA RRU 025-002-1-1-170

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  • 1890-1913 (Creation)

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In 1913, James Dunsmuir acquired a wooden structure created by the Kwakwaka'wakw people to be used as a gate entrance to the Japanese garden. The sculpture was carved from western red cedar and had three upright pieces joined by a horizontal lintel. The sculpture was located at the Dunsmuir property from 1913-1938. The posts were originally intended for the inside of a house in Dzawadi and were carved around 1884, but the house was never completed and the house posts were left until they were bought by a collector who later sold them to James Dunsmuir. Dzawadi is about 100km northeast of Alert Bay and within the traditional territory of the Da’naxda’xw Awaetlala First Nation. This images shows the house posts in their original location.
In 1938, after Laura Dunsmuir’s death, the posts were sold to George Heye, who was a well-known collector of anthropological and archeological artefacts of the Americas. The posts were part of the collection at the Museum of the American Indian in New York until 1975 when they were bought by the National Museum of Canada.
A conservator's report from the Canadian museum shows that the posts were damaged before they were positioned at Hatley Park. Careful restoration work had occurred when the house posts were relocated to the Dunsmuir estate. New wood pieces had been skillfully added to replace damage caused by a grass fire in its original location. A second, less careful restoration took place sometime after 1936, provable by the fact that pages of newspaper from that year were found used as filling material under a crude plaster and papier mache repair.

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Images are provided for personal research only; other uses require permission. Contact the archivist for more information:

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