Mungo Martin

Mungo Martin or Nakapenkem ( Potlatch chief, more than ten times ), also known simply Datsa ( grandfather) called (* 1879 (or shortly thereafter ) in Tsaxis (Fort Rupert ), British Columbia; † August 16, 1962 in Victoria), was one the most important artists of the Canadian First Nations. Born as one of the high-ranking members of the Kwakiutl, which are among the Kwakwaka'wakw, and who live on the east coast to the north of Vancouver Iceland, he became particularly prominent in the field of carving, painting, as well as a singer and lyricist. He was known as carver of the Century and was instrumental in the revival of the art of the Northwest Coast of North America. Until 1947 he worked in Tsaxis, then went to Vancouver in 1952 to Victoria, where he left the famous piles in front of the Royal British Columbia Museum.


Mungo Martin was born in 1879 in Fort Rupert, the son of Yaxnukwelas, a senior Kwicksutaineuk on Gilford Iceland, and the Q'omiga (Sarah Finlay) from the influential Hunt family. His mother, in turn, had a Kwakwaka'wakw mother and a Scottish father, who had worked for the Hudson 's Bay Company. Yaxnukwelas died in 1889 and his mother remarried. At Martin's foster father was so Yakuglas ( Charlie James ), who influenced his life as an artist.

Q'omiga urged that he was carver ( wood carver ) and a singer, Yakuglas helped him. For this, the mother held on rituals in which Mungo Martin could settle into this culture techniques. He developed an expressive art so that he soon became the driving force in the revival of the oppressed by the Canadian government indigenous culture that had developed around the potlatch. He beamed on artists such as Tom Omhid, Willie Seaweed, with which he carved a mask of the most important groups, and Dan Cranmer from. He married his second wife, the artist abayah (Sarah Smith) who had specialized in weaving techniques. She was photographed by Edward Curtis.

Martin did not hesitate, despite its strong heritage in the art of the Northwest Coast, to learn songs from other cultures and to carry forward, such as the Navajo, and even Japanese folk songs, which he had in turn learned of the Kwakwaka'wakw, who worked with Japanese or went to Japan were. A total of 124 of his songs were recorded, around 400 are known.

Like most Indians of the West Coast Martin lived from fishing, he ran the commercially soon.

Mungo Martin's stepfather Charlie James himself was an acknowledged master of carving, which had set up his first big totem pole in Alert Bay in 1900 under the name Raven of the Sea. In the 1920s, the Canadian government began the prohibition of potlatch, the claimed validity since 1885 to enforce with police methods. These masks and other ritual objects were confiscated. Indian agents and police went for clues and searched a number of houses; many objects were hidden. Mungo Martin held on to the rituals and kept them hidden from view. When the bans were eased in 1949, began a group of traditional chiefs, among them Mungo Martin to revive the ceremonies and arts again. Martin held immediately after the cancellation of the existing until 1951 potlatch ban for the first time this celebration for three days in Victoria from publicly.

Abroad, however, like to Canada campaigned with its cultural diversity. 1939 Martin was accordingly commissioned to carve a totem pole for the World Fair in New York. In 1947, he was for the Museum of Anthropology at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver carry out restoration work and create replicas so that the originals could be protected and restored in 1951 he erected a totem pole in Vancouver in memory of his ancestors Kalifix.

In 1952 he was awarded the Royal British Columbia Museum in Victoria commissioned to create exhibits for the North West Coastal kind, which he carved a 160 foot ( 50 m ) tall totem pole. It was erected in 1956 and stood until 2000. In Thunderbird Park in front of the museum he created Wawadit'la, a large house of the Kwakwaka'wakw, plus a copy of the 1883 stolen Kitwancool - totem pole. Here it joined a friendship with Bill Holm, an anthropologist. Added to this was Martin's family who lived also in the vicinity of the museum, namely in James Bay. These were his son David and his family, as well as the relatives Henry and Helen Hunt - the latter was the granddaughter of Martin's wife. Henry Hunt and his son Tony, who at the time was twelve years old, learned from Martin. But his son, David, died in 1959. Sons Henry Stanley and Richard Hunt, however, were professional carvers, as well as Martin's niece Ellen Neel, the first woman among the Schnitzmeistern.

Martin, established in 1958 a 100 -foot high totem pole as a gift of the province of British Columbia to the Queen of England in London situated close to Windsor Great Park near Windsor Castle.

Also, the Haida Bill Reid, who worked for ten days with Mungo Martin, was influenced by him, as well as Doug Cranmer, who was also a grandson Abaya'as.

In addition to the artistic revival and dissemination of the skills, knowledge and ritual integration of Northwest Coast Art Martin brought his cultural knowledge also in the ethnological and anthropological research. So Gunther recorded 1953 songs by him, as he was interviewed by Holm.

Mungo Martin died in 1962 at the age of 83 years in Victoria. His body was brought by a Canadian warship to Alert Bay; Abaya followed him in 1963.