By Robert Bringhurst
The Haida international is a misty archipelago 100 stormy miles off the coasts of British Columbia and Alaska. For 1000 years and extra sooner than the Europeans got here, an excellent tradition flourished in those islands. The masterworks of classical Haida sculpture, now enshrined in lots of of the world's nice museums, diversity from beautiful tiny amulets to amazing large housepoles. Classical Haida literature is each piece as quite a few and tremendous. It extends from tiny jewels crafted via grasp songmakers to complicated mythic cycles lasting many hours.
The linguist and ethnographer John Swanton took dictation from the final nice Haida-speaking storytellers, poets and historians from the autumn of 1900 in the course of the summer season of 1901. His Haida hosts and co-workers have been raised in a totally oral global the place the mythic and the private interpenetrate thoroughly. They joined forces with their customer, consciously making a nice treasury of Haida oral literature in written shape. Poet and linguist Robert Bringhurst has labored for a few years with those century-old manuscripts, that have waited beforehand for the wide attractiveness they deserve.
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Extra resources for A Story as Sharp as a Knife: The Classical Haida Mythtellers and Their World
Like all works of literature, the qqaygaang are constructed from inherited materials and filled with shared ideas, but they are made, in every case, by individuals. How they are built is a matter of personal skill and sensitivity and style. The best transcriptions that we have of classical Haida myth, and the best performances occuring in the present day, are works of art, like the finest pieces of Haida weaving, painting and sculpture. The qqaygaang are what people fond of literature call oral narrative poems.
Indd 38 01/12/2010 2:54:50 PM c ha p t e r o n e : Goose Food «Now, sir, you may go. » Then he set off. A fter walking awhile, he came upon someone infested with lice. He was trying to catch the lice by turning around. 1 ] After he had stared at him awhile, the other said, «Sir, don’t just tickle me with your eyes. » 130 Then he went up close, and he combed out his hair. He rubbed him with oil and picked off the lice. And he gave him the comb and the rest of the oil. » A gain he set off. After walking awhile, he saw a small mouse in front of him.
A number of names, titles and nicknames have grown from this root. There are elaborate forms like Sqaatsidaahlging (Belly Full of Bravery) and simple ones like Sqaatsigins (Always Brave), Nang Sqaatsis (One Who Is Brave) and Sqaatsigaay (Bravery Itself). The latter name, used by a headman of the Qayahl Llaanas family of Qaysun, caught the ears of the early British traders who anchored near the town and was transmuted into Scots Guy. 3 A short-lived gold rush around 1852 gave Qaysun another English name, Gold Harbour, but the anchorage is charted even now as Skotsgai Bay.
A Story as Sharp as a Knife: The Classical Haida Mythtellers and Their World by Robert Bringhurst