Haida houses had little in the way of furnishings in the European sense. Sleeping compartments and privacy were provided by plank partitions that were often elaborately decorated. During ceremonies, additional screens were added to the back of the house to create a backstage area for dancers and initiates to put on their costumes. These screens were often made of canvas obtained in trade and were painted with crest designs. Storage boxes were stacked around the sides of the house. Formal seats were reserved for the chief and his wives, while others sat on boxes or on mats on the floor.
The communal seat of honour of Chief Skotsgai of Kaisun village. This piece led Bill Holm to name the artist who made it "the Master of the Chicago Settee" and to identify many other works by this unknown carver in various museums. The seat was collected at Skidegate in 1901 by Charles F. Newcombe and is now in the Field Museum of Natural History, Chicago (79595).
Photograph by Charles F. Newcombe, 1901.
The chief's seat of honour in each house was located along the back platform on the central axis of the house, facing the door. The seat was thought of as a box that protected the spirit of the chief. Hence, the decoration is typically either the Konankada design or a crest belonging to the chief. The decoration on a chief's seat is on the inside, so the seated chief was shown to public view surrounded by his carved and painted crests.
date created: november 30, 1998 | Last Updated: April 1, 2010