University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology

House Post [Object of the Day- #50]

By: Ashley Harper

19th Century Alaskan House Post
19th Century house post from the Tlingit culture of northwest Alaska

This 19th century house post comes from the Tlingit culture of northwest Alaska. This house post  is an excellent example of the artistry and skill of the Tlingit people. It was made for the Kaagwaantaan clan or wolf clan. It’s iconography centers on the wolf and the bear. The house post is carved of wood and pigment has been applied to the surface.

An Expedition magazine article recounts the story of a 2004 Potlatch hosted by the Kaagwaantaan clan. “Potlatches are extravagant feasts where goods are given away or sometimes destroyed to enhance social prestige. The basic principle underlying the potlatch is reciprocity and balance as the host clan regales the clans from the opposite moiety with songs, dances, speeches, food, and gifts”  (Expedition vol 47 number 2, p.11).

Penn Museum Object #31-29-13.

See this and other objects like it on Penn Museum’s Online Collection Database.

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