Open main menu

Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 54.djvu/202

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
188
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

or Cannibal Society. The chief object of this outfit, apart from the white and red cedar bark rings, was a long club, one side of which was ornamented by a fringe of red cedar tassels. Of interest also was the curious cap made of plaited bands of red cedar bark, and so ornamented as to represent the head of the owl. Another object secured from a shaman was a peculiar bow and arrow. These were purely ceremonials, and were only used in the dances of the secret societies. By an ingenious device the point of the arrow could be opened out, and in this position represented the open jaws of a serpent. On the bow were two fins, that could be lowered or raised at will by means of cords, which represented the fin-back whale. The bow itself is of light soft wood, and is bent by means of a string passing around the operator's body, the two ends of the bow being fastened to the body of the bow by leather hinges.

In all the ceremonies, both religious and civil, an important part of the costume is the mask. These are generally of wood, and portray all manner of real and fanciful personages. Some of them are wonders of ingenuity, being so constructed that the eyes, mouth, and often the ears can be moved at the will of the wearer. Some of them are even double, and so arranged that by drawing open the outer mask, an inner one of an entirely different character can be revealed. One of the rarest masks which was ever brought out of the Tsimshian country is one in the possession of the museum, which was acquired some time ago. It is of bone and finely carved, while the teeth and tusks are those of animals.

Hazelton is of much interest to the observer of the human countenance, for, while the residents of the town are Tsimshians, there is a village near by on the Bulkley River, the people of which belong to the great Tinneh or Athabascan stock, which extends from the Arctic Circle on the north to the Territories of Arizona and New Mexico on the south, where it is represented by the Apaches. In some respects the differences between the Tsimshians and Tinnehs, or Howgelgaits, as this branch is called, are quite marked, and these differences stand out in greater relief because more or less of the population of Howgelgait spend a part of their time in Hazelton, and so one sees representatives of the two stocks in close contact. The Tsimshians, like the Haidas, are great canoe people, and are rather short-legged, with great development of the chest and shoulders. Like the Haidas, also, they have strong, long arms, which bespeak familiarity with the paddle. The Howgelgaits, on the other hand, are a pure mountaineer people, and are tall, robust, and finely proportioned. Their hair is black, coarse, and abundant. The eyebrows are thick and remarkably wide at the outer side. This same peculiarity may be observed in the masks of this tribe. The beard is sparse, but it must