Tag Archives: argillite

Haida stone carving from Chumash Territory, California?

NW Coast stone carving found in Chumash Territory, California. Source: http://www.arrowheadology.com/forums/showthread.php?t=42646&p=359269&viewfull=1#post359269

NW Coast stone carving found in Chumash Territory, California. Source: http://www.arrowheadology.com/forums/showthread.php?t=42646&p=359269&viewfull=1#post359269

If someone out there in webland makes a link to my blog, and then someone else clicks on that link, I might be able to tell which site is referring to me.  Sometimes this leads to unexpected discoveries.  One of these incoming links is a query to an artifact collecting forum (boo) from a collector in southern California, who found the above small sculpture in Chumash territory.  As is so common in the collector world, there is no other contextual information about this piece, which to my eye, appears to be an early historic Haida carving in argillite. Knowledgeable readers may wish to weigh in below in the comments section about the motifs and provenance of this sculpture – there are more fairly low-quality pictures here. How it made its way to the Santa Barbara area is anyone’s guess, it may have been a simple curio bought by a tourist, or it may be a now-lost bit of evocative human history like the one I suggested here for Haida argillite found on San Juan Island.

NW Coast stone carving found in Chumash Territory, California. Source: http://www.arrowheadology.com/forums/showthread.php?t=42646&p=359269&viewfull=1#post359269

NW Coast stone carving found in Chumash Territory, California. Source: http://www.arrowheadology.com/forums/showthread.php?t=42646&p=359269&viewfull=1#post359269

Advertisements

Mystery Pipe

Mystery panel pipe. 12 inches long by 4 inches high.

I got contacted the other day by someone who was handling the estate of an elderly art collector.  The entire collection is African with one exception, the panel pipe shown above, and with more pictures below.  The person is looking for some basic information about these pipes and I suppose they will be charged with its disposition.  They contacted me thinking I might know something about them because I have posted about such pipes before, but of course I am just an archaeologist and  make posts about a lot of things of which I am largely ignorant.

Mystery panel pipe, detail.

I’ve given them contact information for someone who actually does know but in the meantime they said it would be ok to post these pictures here and see what the readers have to say.

Continue reading

Edenshaw Compote

Argillite and ivory compote attributed to Haida master carver Charles Edenshaw. Height: 30 cm. Source: Liverpool Museum.

I only have a short post today since I am up to my neck in alligators, courtesy of my day job.  So, take a moment and check out the spectacular argillite compote (a pedestaled serving dish), attributed to Haida master carver Da.axiigang, Charles Edenshaw.  This particular dish is in the collection of the Liverpool Museum – an institution that  holds a collection donated by well-known coastal collector, casual ethnographer, and (apparently) former Liverpudlian, Dr. Charles Newcombe – many of the items in their Northwest Coast section must come from this source.  It is one of the more striking pieces of Argillite I have seen in that the form is so clearly derived from silverware: it is sublimely ridiculous, and I can’t help but feel that Edenshaw was in on the joke.  Yes, he would make what would sell, but a piece like this makes me wonder if he wasn’t slyly pulling the touristic leg, somewhat.

Continue reading

Another Haida Argillite Pipe for Sale

Haida panel pipe, nineteenth century.

A few days ago I featured photographs of a stunning 19th century Haida argillite pipe for sale at a UK web site.  They have a second pipe for sale, a more complex design but in poorer condition.  The photos are similarly revealing of carving strokes and rock grain; even more so in some ways as this piece appears to be unfinished.  The design is complex focusing on Raven and Bear (not the Frog as the description below says, I don’t think), but it is not for me to try to decode the story being told.

The description is given as follows:

19thC. HAIDA ARGILLITE PIPE PANEL. #asc004 #asc004

Probably from the Raven Tribe, the panel carved with various mythological figures including a raven, a man, a frog and the thunder bird, this is possibly part of a larger panel and the top has been slightly filed flat for mounting on a stand, (not photographed). Overall 13.5cm.

From the Haida tribes of the Northwest Pacific Coast of British Columbia and Queen Charlotte Island

£2,500.00

Again, for posterity, here are nine views of this pipe: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9.  As I noted before, while not as sharp as the other set, these photographs surpass most of what one finds on many, many museum sites, where the rule seems to be: offer a single view of an object, offer it at low resolution, do not allow direct hyperlinks to the file, and break the URL as soon as possible.

Front view of panel pipe.

Top view of pipe.

Haida Argillite Pipe: High Resolution Pictures

Detail: Haida Argillite Pipe ca. 1880. http://www.antiquearms.co.uk

I occasionally complain about the lousy pictures that professional organizations put on the web.  I guess I should know that when you have something to sell, you put it’s best face forward; when you don’t, you might not care as much.  Check out the high resolution pictures of this Haida argillite pipe for sale (4,800 GBP).  Multiple angles of the pipe, each one sharp and crisp: you can see each stroke of the knife and the grain of the slate.  Yes there is some glare but the images are much better than most museums make available on the web.  Amazing stuff.

Described as:

19thC. HAIDA ARGILLITE EFFIGY PIPE. #4213 #4213

a bowl carved in the form of a European sailor’s head with large rounded eyes and long straight nose, a figure seated astride the stem also with large rounded eyes and long straight nose and with arms extended wearing European costume with a stripe incised along the sides of the tunic arms and the trousers. Overall 20cm. From the tribes of the Pacific Northwest Coast of North America, principily Northern Columbia and Queen Charlotte Island. 20cm

This pipe was brought back and formed part of the collection of John Madden (1837-1902) of Hilton Park Clones Co, Monaghan Ireland, he left the Irish family estate at the age of 24 to travel by horse across the eastern states of America as far as the Great Lakes just before the start of the Civil War. During his later travels between 1870-1890 he is known to have reached British Columbia where he bought this pipe, it stayed in the family home until the collection was sold at an auction of part of the contents of Hilton Park on the 8th July 1985 where this item was aquired.

For the record, here are the seven views offered by the dealer: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7.

Haida Pipe: detail as if looking down the stem to the bowl.

Haida, Argillite, and the Pig War

Carved argillite from Belle Vue Sheep Farm, San Juan Island. Source: NPS.

I don’t know as much about the 1859 Pig War as you might think, having spent an awful lot of time on San Juan Island. This “war”, which was more of an armed standoff between British and American troops, was a key event in the various mid-19th century boundary disputes.  One key location was Belle Vue Sheep Farm, near the southern tip of San Juan Island, where there has recently been some interesting historical archaeological work by the U.S. National Parks Service.

One interesting find at this dig is a piece of carved argillite, shown above, which most likely stems from Haida Gwaii (see page 7 of this PDF report, browse other NW NPS reports here).  Around this time there were plenty of Haida and other North Coast Nations around the Victoria area, and so it is not surprising, really, to see this piece.  And yet, it is also a stroke of massive good fortune to have such a distinctive piece of the turbulent 19th century history of First Nations.

Intriguingly, a key figure on the American side of the Pig War was George Pickett, who later achieved substantial fame for leading Pickett’s Charge at the Battle of Gettysburg in the American Civil War,

Ironically for someone who later fought for the racist Confederacy, Pickett was once married to a Haida woman by the name of Sâkis Tiigang.   (More often known as “Morning Mist”, this site gives her Haida name as beSakkis Tiigang while the Pickett Society in a detailed article gives her the slightly more authoritative-seeming name Sâkis Tiigang, meaning “Mist Lying Down”).  They had a son together, the artist James Tilton Pickett who, without wanting to generalize overly, certainly looks like a Haida man.  Shortly after the birth of young James in 1857, Sâkis Tiigang passed away.

Probably there is no tangible connection between Morning Mist/Sâkis Tiigang and this carved piece of her homeland, but surely there is a poetic one.

James Tilton Pickett, son of Sâkis Tiigang and George Pickett/ 1857-1889. Source: Pickett Society.

Mechanical representation in a Haida Pipe

Haida Pipes, 1837. From U. Washington Collection.

I don’t know much about these early historic Haida argillite pipes.  These ones are illustrated in Edward Belcher’s Narrative of a voyage round the world, 1843, v.1, p. 309.  The lower one captured my attention, with its representation of a conveyor belt (?!) – or, more likely, a block-and-tackle/pulley setup.  The playful seriousness of these pipes is astounding – as can be seen in my earlier post on the SS Beaver pipe.  I would like to see a photograph of this one but I have no idea where it may have ended up.

The image is via the superb University of Washington Digital NW collections.