Houses and totem poles in Masset

Houses and totem poles in Masset
Accession number: 
Pitt Rivers Museum, University of Oxford

View of houses and totem poles at Masset village (formerly Massett) on Graham Island, Haida Gwaii (formerly the Queen Charlotte Islands), in British Columbia, Canada.

Photographer: Richard Maynard
Date of photograph: 1884
Continent: North America
Geographical area: North America
Country: Canada
Region/Place: British Columbia; Haida Gwaii (Queen Charlotte Islands); Masset
Cultural group: Haida
Format: Black and white print (mounted on card)
Size: 195 x 242 mm; 459 x 305 mm (with mount)
Acquisition: Edward Burnett Tylor. Bequeathed 1917


Exhibition label: ‘The four mounted prints displayed on the right show houses and totem poles in Masset village, Haida Gwaii, Canada. The photographs were taken in 1884 by the commercial photographer Richard Maynard, accompanying Captain Newton Chittenden during an inspection of villages on the island. The top right photograph [1998.183.18.1] shows the largest of the traditional houses in Masset, Monster House, which was located immediately next to Chief Anetlas’ Star House, in front of which the pole later transferred to the Pitt Rivers Museum once stood. The relationship of the buildings can be seen in the photograph by Bertram Buxton taken two years earlier [1998.255.13], displayed on the far left of the case.’ Source: ‘Star House Pole: Early Images of the Haida Totem Pole in the Pitt Rivers Museum’, exhibition curated by Philip Grover, Pitt Rivers Museum, University of Oxford, 9 June to 28 September 2014.

Annotations on mount: ‘Art & Archaeology/ N. W. AMERICA’ (written on mount in black ink); ‘E. B. Tylor coll.’ (written on mount in black ink).

Research notes: Richard Maynard (1832–1907) was a commercial photographer who visited Masset for the first time in 1884, returning on one further occasion in 1888: ‘He first visited the Queen Charlotte villages in April–May of 1884 accompanying Captain Newton H. Chittenden, who was engaged by the Provincial Government to inspect the Islands. On this trip Maynard travelled between Masset and Skidegate, photographing with both a 8" x 10" view camera and a stereo camera. Maynard’s preoccupation with photography is evident both in his work and in his diary entries. These latter reveal some of the frustrations photography among the Haidas entailed and the extent of his dedication. For example, the entry of April 18, 1884, notes that he “arrived at Masset 5 p.m. Ashore & took 3 large & 5 Stereos”’: George F. MacDonald, Haida Monumental Art: Villages of the Queen Charlotte Islands (Vancouver, 1983), p.213.