Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Táx’ Hít (Snail House, Hoonah)


This is a picture of the Snail House in Hoonah, Alaska. This house is from the T'akdeintaan, or Raven-Sea Tern clan of the Tlingit. The painted house front is much like a flat, two dimensional entrance totem pole and serves the same purpose: to inform arriving guests and fellow Tlingits what crests and privileges belong to the house members , and how they are to be addressed. The Tlingit house serves as much (possibly more) as a component of identity as it does a place of residence, and your clan determines how other people will address you in kinship terms. Even just the mentioning of the snail and raven together will let a Tlingit person know that this house is being referenced.

This house front was one of the most complex, intricate, and abstract of all house fronts on the Pacific Northwest Coast. Like totem poles, painted house fronts always face the water to greet guests from afar, and also like totem poles, house fronts carry a lot of information about the owner. The formline system that governs Tlingit two-dimensional art depicts animals, spirits and forces of nature as if you are viewing them with an X-ray. Visible on this house front are Raven, Sea Tern, Sockeye, Marten, Snail, and Human. This front is unusual because it is vertically, rather than horizontally, oriented which makes it all the more totem-like.

38 comments:

Kari said...

FYI: The "snail and raven" link is broken. It looks like the updated link is: http://www.thenorthernlight.org/2001/01/16/professorspoemdrawsfieryconflict/

睡衣 said...

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ya said...

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