Chief Mungo Martin - Northwest Native Master Artist and Traditionalist
(1881 - 1962)
In 1957 Mungo Martin was commissioned by the province of British Columbia to care a one hundred foot totem pole, as a centennial gift for the Queen England.
Twin totem poles featuring Thunderbird, Bear with a Halibut and beaver.
Totem pole commissioned for Governor-General Viscount Alexander in 1946.
Mungo Martin and Helen Hunt visit Windsor Castle, England. Many years later, Mungo’s grandson, David Neel was introduced to Queen Elizabeth and Prince Phillip, at a ceremony in London. The prince commented that they had a totem pole at Windsor Castle. Upon hearing that Neel was a descendant of Martin’s, the prince told him that he “must come see the totem at Windsor.” Neel has yet to take up the invitation.
Detail of Martin totem pole, (chief with cedar bark head ring and neck ring) at the UBC Museum of Anthropology.
Detail of Martin totem pole, (Sisiutl or Double headed sea serpent) at the UBC Museum of Anthropology.
Martin carving a copy of a historic Haida totem pole; during his career he restored and made copies of a number of totem poles in Vancouver and later Victoria, BC.
The Mungo Martin big-house at the Royal British Columbia Museum in Victoria was completed in 1953. Martin hosted the first public and lawful potlatch in this house, after the repeal, in 1952, of the infamous ‘anti-potlatch law
This Crooked Beak of Heaven mask was carved by Martin and danced in a potlatch at his big-house in 1953. His son, Dave Martin, was initiated as a Hamatsa dancer; this mask represents one of the servants of the Hamatsa: the Cannibal at the North End of the World.
A Huk-Huk mask, carved by Martin for the Kingdom of the Animals dance; which may include up to forty masked dancers.
This elaborate Crane mask with articulated wings, neck and beak, was carved and painted in Martin’s signature style.
This is an earlier Crane mask with articulated wings, neck and beak; similar in style to the work of Martin’s mentor, Charlie James.
A Nulis transformation mask, with a bear on the head; representing the first ancestor. The right to this mask and the dance that accompany it is currently owned by Chief Edwin Newman.
An articulated Raven mask; a servant of the Cannibal at the North End of the World, and is one of the prerogatives of the Hamatsa dance series.
A Pugmis, or Merman mask with an articulated loon on his head. This piece was carved for traditional use in about 1915.
In 1977 the Royal Canadian Mint released a one dollar coin in honor of Mungo Martin, with his likeness on one side and a Thunderbird, his main family crest, on the reverse side
Martin’s copper, “Mahaynootsi” or Big-Killer-Whale, features a killer whale design engraved by Willie Seaweed. This copper is approximately 26 x 13”, and was purchased by Martin in 1942.