The Thunderbird and Dzunuk’wa pole was carved in 1990 and stands 6.1m (19’11”) in height. It was carved by Ned Matilpi and is displayed in a small park on Station Street and Craig Street in downtown Duncan.
This pole is a replica of a memorial pole for Billie Moon by carver Willie Seaweed (c.1873-1967), displayed in the ‘Yalis cemetery in Alert Bay, B.C.
Carver Ned Matilpi explains that “the Thunderbird first helped life our first bighouse beams into place and is a source of mythological and supernatural powers. The fearsome legend of Dzunuk’wa, with her boney face and hanging breasts, is an object of terror and at the same time, wealth and power. Her arms are outstretched in a sign of mourning, or at times poised to grab a strayed child from outside a village…..”
Carver Ned Matilpi explains that “the fearsome legend of Dzunuk’wa, with her boney face and hanging breasts, is an object of terror and at the same time, wealth and power. Her arms are outstretched in a sign of mourning, or at times poised to grab a strayed child from outside a village. Dzunuk’wa is usually painted black and red, colours that represent the underworld….”
There is another Dzunuk’wa figure on the Dzunuk’wa pole at Kenneth Street and Government Street, carved in 1989 by Ned Matilpi’s father, Oscar Matilpi.
Oscar Matilpi explained Dzunuk’wa’s meaning on the Dzunuk’wa pole as:
“Those who are fortunate enough to have Dzunuk’wa [Wild Woman] in their possession are watched over and protected. Black in colour, with bushy, unkempt hair, she is usually shown with a pursed mouth. In the absence of the owner, Dzunuk’wa acts as an official greeter to any caller, ensuring that no visitor will go away offended by not being properly welcomed. Should a visitor remove, harm or damage any property in the absence of the owner, Dzunuk’wa sees to it that the perpetrator is punished by various means. She may cause strong winds to blow from her pursed lips, which would result in their canoe sinking on their way home with their ill gotten goods……”
For comparison purposes, here is a photo of the Dzunuk’wa figure in the Dzunuk’wa pole, carved in 1989 by Ned Matilpi’s father, Oscar Matilpi, and displayed at the intersection of Government Street and Kenneth Street.
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