Mortuary poles were only erected as a chief's or shaman's
grave post. They often held his body or ashes on the top.
Rarely the Haida burial box was supported by two poles. In
some areas horizontal and grave figures served as mortuary
A. GRAVE FIGURE. Coast Salish.
B. HAIDA MORTUARIES. From Skedans.
C. CHIEF SKEDAN'S MORTUARY. Shown on the right, this replica
is standing in Vancouver. It was originally erected in honor
of Chief Skedans prior to 1850 at a cost of 290 blankets
($580.00). The crest figures, top to bottom, are: Moon,
Mountain Goat, and out of sight below, Grizzly Bear, Killer
Whale, and Human.
House poles, another form of memorial or heraldic pole, were
of two kinds. House frontal poles had a hole cut into the
front through which entrance was made to the house. Inside
house posts were an integral part of the structure,
supporting the large roof beams.
A. TSIMSHIAN HOUSE FRONTAL. From 'Ksan on Skeena River near
B. KWAKIUTL INSIDE HOUSE POST. From Knight Inlet, this was a
corner post on an unfinished house.
C. TLINGIT HOUSE FRONTAL. This Alaskan house illustrates
extreme in frontal design. Pole crest figures (top to
bottom): Thunderbird, Bear, Frog, Crying Human, Killer
Whale, and possibly two other variations of supernatural