House Front Melsk

 Housefront in PRMS- Lusigat Gyetks

Inner Strength

Click to enlarge image

Click to enlarge image


The longhouse has been vital to the Ts’msyen people for countless millennia. Sturdy beams and columns were raised by members of the four crests: eagle, raven, wolf and blackfish as a way of both endorsing and strengthening the house. Once raised, those beams and columns supported a house which became a source of life for the community. The Gispaxlo’ats design of this Housefront pays tribute to the significance of this structure as a conduit of knowledge and inner strength for its inhabitants.

The Melsk

What follows is the melsk, or true telling of the Russell Mather design painted on the Housefront entitled Lusigat Gyetks or Inner Strength.

In prominence on the face of the gables are four masks carrying several meanings. First, they represent the four seasons of spring (gooym), summer (suunt), fall (ksuut) and winter (goomsm). Second, they are arranged in the order of female, male, female and male as a mark of respect for the matrilineal structure of Ts’msyen society. Lastly, they convey the strength that is derived from family.

Carved on the columns supporting the gables you find images representing the four winds and the movement of the sun: sunrise or east (ksi gwantk ga gyemk), south (hywaas), west (guulka) and north (gyiyaask). These images reach back into history to endorse and strengthen the house.

Situated under the cover of the gables is a large human figure welcoming and guiding all who enter the house. Below this is another human representing all those who work together to gather strength through the process of sharing. Intersecting the eyes of these human figures are butterfly and hummingbird crests, alluding to the inclusive nature of this house of strength.

Enveloping the top corners of the design are the outstretched hands and faces of two Sm’ooygyits, Gitxoon and Nes’a’waap, who provided guidance, sustained traditions and passed on knowledge about the sacredness of Ts’msyen art, as well as the skills and patience needed to produce it.

In concert, all the human figures and crests face inward because they are in agreement. They center on time: the past, present and the future. From this, Lusigat Gyetks or Inner Strength is drawn.