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Supernatural crystal, or ha'ina

 

Length: 10.000 cm

Presented by George Dixon through Sir Joseph Banks

AOA Ethno Q79 Am 1

Enlightenment: Trade-Discovery

    Supernatural crystal, or ha'ina

    Nuu-chah-nulth, 18th century AD
    From Vancouver Island, British Columbia, North America

    The Nuu-chah-nulth believed that these crystals, or ha'ina, grew on the top of mountains and were endowed with magical qualities for bringing wealth and good fortune, for example, when hunting sea otter.

    This ha'ina was collected by Captain George Dixon, who had accompanied Captain Cook on his Third Voyage (1776-80) to Vancouver Island. In 1785-88 Dixon made a trading voyage on the King George and Queen Charlotte which was promoted by the King George's Sound Company (King George's Sound was Captain Cook's short-lived name for Nootka Sound on Vancouver Island, where this crystal was collected, probably from the Mowachaht people.)

    The Nuu-chah-nulth used the ha'ina to invite people to potlatches, the great feasts given to celebrate life-cycle events at which hereditary rights were displayed. The invitation to a potlatch would take place at a gathering a year or two before the potlatch, when the crystal would be, metaphorically speaking, sent out to the prospective guests. They may have 'sent' this example to Dixon. Dixon was supported by Sir Joseph Banks in his work, and through Banks gave this 'piece of rock crystal' to the British Museum on 22 May 1789.

    The hexagonal quartz crystal has been shaped by grinding and pecking to create an approximately circular groove around one end. This may have been used for hafting perhaps creating a supernatural tool or weapon.

    J.C.H King, Artificial curiosities from th (London, British Museum Publications, 1981)

    P. Drucker, The northern and central Nootk, Bureau of American Ethnology, Bulletin 144 (Washington, D.C., Smithsonian Institution, 1951)

    B.M. Gough, 'George Dixon' in Dictionary of Canadian Biograp, vol. 4 (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1981-91), pp. 217-19

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