A few years ago, I came into possession of a bunch of free DVDs, each one bearing a single episode from Attenborough's myriad documentaries. For The Tribal Eye, 'Crooked Beak Of Heaven' was chosen for inclusion in the set, and it was this episode which looked at the Haida and Kwakwaka'wakw, their customs and their art. Being a lifelong Attenborough fan, sitting through the lot of them end-to-end was no real chore, and I'd seen many of them before. That said, The Tribal Eye is one which had totally bypassed me. I wasn't at all familiar with indigenous American culture but I could listen to three hours of football scores so long as Attenborough was reading them, so I had no qualms about The Tribal Eye.
|Weathered and decayed Haida totem poles. Stills from The Tribal Eye - Crooked Beak of Heaven (© BBC)|
A common theme in Haida art is their representations of animals. Commonly encountered animals form the vast majority of the animals featured in their carvings and paintings and comprise orca, beluga whales, beavers, bears, frogs and birds. They appear on totem poles (see above), on textile screens and as ritualistic masks.
|The "Crooked Beak Of Heaven" as shown in this tribal ritual mask. Described as a 'cannibal bird', it holds a man's head in its jaws. (© BBC)|
|Generalised ichthyosaur, based on the Haida orca (© 2014 Gareth Monger)|
|An elasmosaur, looking 'all washed up'. I figured this is how most people would expect to see a plesiosaur. Cue comments about dorsoventral preservation. (© 2014 Gareth Monger)|
|An azhdarchid pterosaur. Dead. (© 2014 Gareth Monger)|
|Rebecca Groom, of PalaeoPlushies fame, expertly models an ichthyosaur. Note sneaky Natee product placement on sofa. (Used with permission.)|
That just leaves me to say thanks very much for all the page visits since I started this at the beginning of December, and for all the shares and comments, both on and off the blog. Happy New Year and I hope 2015 treats you well.