Open Collections

BC Historical Books

BC Historical Books

BC Historical Books

A rock painting of the Thompson River Indians, British Columbia, edited, with notes of the collector,… Teit, James Alexander, 1864-1922 1896

Item Metadata


JSON: bcbooks-1.0340634.json
JSON-LD: bcbooks-1.0340634-ld.json
RDF/XML (Pretty): bcbooks-1.0340634-rdf.xml
RDF/JSON: bcbooks-1.0340634-rdf.json
Turtle: bcbooks-1.0340634-turtle.txt
N-Triples: bcbooks-1.0340634-rdf-ntriples.txt
Original Record: bcbooks-1.0340634-source.json
Full Text

Full Text

Array   mm
A Rock Painting of the Thompson River
Indians, British Columbia.
By James Teit.
Edited, from notes of the collector, by Franz Boas.
^mevtcKu ptwseum xrf natural p$8;(£p%
Vol. .VIII,   Article  XII,  pp.   227-230.
New York, November 20, i8g6.  Article XII.—A 1
In the interior of British Columbia numerous rock paintings
are found, most of which are laid on in red ochre. Many of
these have the appearance of having been made quite recently.
Mr. James Teit has had the good fortune to find one near Spence's
Bridge, B. C, which the Indians were able to explain in detail.
According to the custom of the Thompson River Indians, who
/orm a branch of the Salishaw. family, girls on reaching maturity
must retire to the hills where they undergo a long ceremony of
purification and make offerings to secure good luck. At the end
of this period they record their offerings and the ceremonies that
they have performed on a boulder. The subjects of these records
are therefore identical in many cases, and all the women of the
tribe are able to interpret their meaning. Mr. Teit found a
boulder of this sort near Skaitok,1 about one mile northeast of
Spence's Bridge. It is partly imbedded in the ground and faces
northward and southward. The paintings are all on the south
side. The size of the boulder is about six feet square, and it
rises to a height of four feet above the ground. The paintings
occupy a space about 5^ feet by 4 feet in size.
The explanations were given by Waxtko,2 an old woman living
at Spence's Bridge. In giving her explanations she stated that
she had made paintings of the same character when undergoing
the ceremonial of purification at the time when she reached maturity, and that she was perfectly familiar with the meanings of all
the designs. According to her statement the paintings were
made by various girls at the time when they reached maturity.
This is borne out by the appearance of the paintings, some of
which are quite fresh, while others appear old and indistinct. 228  Bulletin American Museum of Natural History.   [Vol. VIII,
In order to facilitate description I have numbered the paintings, and when it seemed desirable, separated the individual figures
by broken lines.
Fig. i.—The crossing of two trails. At such places girls used
to bury part of th'e food they were given after having fasted four
days at the beginning of the period of purification.
Fig. 2.—Crossing of trails ; see Fig. i.
Fig. 3.—Four fir branches, such as the girl had to deposit at
the entrance of her lodge, which was built of three or four fir
branches. The horizontal line connecting the three branches at
the left hand side indicates that they were placed near each other.
Fig. 4.—A fir branch the needles of which have been plucked
off ; used as an offering. The girls pluck the needles one by one,
that their fingers may become nimble, and that they may not grow
tired by the work that will be her share in life.
Fig. 5.—A girl's lodge, made of fir branches. The lower portion of the figure up to the dotted line represents fir branches
that hang down from the roof of the lodge. The girl plucks the
needles from these one by one. The top of the figure represents
the roof of the lodge, or the fir branches placed in front of the
entrance, like Fig. 3.
Figs. 6, 7, 8.—Crossing of trails ;  see Fig. 1.
Fig. 9.—A fir branch ; see Fig. 3.
Fig. 10.—The explainer was in doubt if this figure was a poor
representation of a fir branch—it will be noticed that the short
central line at the base is missing—-or if it meant a trench with a
fir branch at each end. Girls used to dig trenches in order to
attain skill and endurance in digging roots and doing hard work
of all kinds.
Fig. ii.—The cross line on top of this figure and the two
downward lines to the right represent the roof of a fir lodge. The
long line with the short diverging lines at its lower end represent a fir branch which is suspended from the roof of the lodge,
the needles of which have been plucked off; see Fig. 5.
Fig. 12.—A snake, which had probably formed the subject of
one of the girl's dreams. i896.]
Teit, Indian Rock Painting.
h^—==_= 230  Bulletin American Museum of Natural History. [Vol. VIII.]
Fig. 13.—The two long lines which cross at right angles represent the crossing of trails. The four short lines which run downward from the horizontal line represent four sticks that are placed
at the crossing as an offering. The longer line to the right with
its two diverging branches represents a fir branch that is also
placed at the crossing.
Fig. 14.—The unfinished edge of a mat or of some other kind
of basketry work. Girls had to make, during the period of isolation, small mats and baskets in order to become expert in this line
of work. The painting represents work of this kind that, the girl
has done.
Fig. 15.—Crossing of trails; see Fig. 1.
Fig. 16.—Either two trenches (see Fig. 10), or two sticks given
as an offering, or simply the numeral two (2) having reference to
the snake (Fig. 12), or to another of the surrounding figures.
Fig. 17.—A fir branch ; see Fig. 3.
Fig. 18.—The unfinished edge of a mat; see Fig. 14.
Fig. 19.—An animal, probably a dog, which had formed the
subject of one of the girls' dreams.
Fig. 20.—A fir branch ; see Fig. 3.
Fig. 21.—A fir branch; see P'ig. 3.
Fig. 22.—An animal, probably a dog, which had formed the
subject of one of the girls' dreams.
Fig. 23.—The unfinished edge of a mat; see Fig. 14.
Fig. 24.—A fir branch; see Fig. 3.
Fig. 25.—The upper part of this figure represents the crossing
of trails. The branches farther down represent fir branches set
up as offerings at the crossing.
Fig. 26.—The unfinished edge of a mat; see Fig. 14.
Fig. 27.—A fir branch ; see Fig. 3.
Fig. 28.—Either a fir branch or an imperfect representation of
a fir lodge. Purchased  L6 «- figiU   1B i "7	
Place of Purchase QM^e'^-Mi	
Later Catalogued Prices   


Citation Scheme:


Citations by CSL (citeproc-js)

Usage Statistics



Customize your widget with the following options, then copy and paste the code below into the HTML of your page to embed this item in your website.
                            <div id="ubcOpenCollectionsWidgetDisplay">
                            <script id="ubcOpenCollectionsWidget"
                            async >
IIIF logo Our image viewer uses the IIIF 2.0 standard. To load this item in other compatible viewers, use this url:


Related Items