Houses and totem poles in Masset (print)

Houses and totem poles in Masset (print)
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: Bertram Buxton
Date of photograph: 1882
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)
Size: 216 x 292 mm; 320 x 394 mm (with mount)
Acquisition: Internal accession. Print produced (from glass negative) circa 1925


Exhibition label: ‘View of houses and totem poles at Masset village, with the frontal post of Star House in the foreground, now located in the Pitt Rivers Museum. Photograph by Bertram Buxton. Masset, Haida Gwaii, Canada. 1882.’ 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.

Research notes: It has been established by Philip Grover that this is a print derived (via a glass plate copy negative) from an original print which was sent by Edward Burnett Tylor to Robert Hanley Hall in June 1899. Tylor, writing to Hall about the kind of Haida totem pole which he was hoping to acquire for the Museum, specified: ‘Enclosed I send a photograph of Massett totem-poles where the 3rd from the right hand is that which was sent to England by Mr Buxton some years ago’: Pitt Rivers Museum Manuscript Collections, Tylor Papers, Box 17, Item 1b: draft of a letter from E. B. Tylor to R. H. Hall, 11 June 1899. It is very likely that this original print had been given to Tylor by Bertram Buxton himself, who took the photograph when in Masset in 1882. One knows, for example, that Tylor visited the Buxton family home of Foxwarren, in Surrey, in 1897; and he subsequently published an article on the celebrated Haida pole which had been erected in the grounds of the house: E. B. Tylor, ‘On the Totem-Post from the Haida Village of Masset, Queen Charlotte Island now Erected in the Grounds of Fox Warren, near Weybridge’, The Journal of the Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland, 28 (1899), pp.133–135.