Tag Archives: Haida Art

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.

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Raven and the First …. Immigrant

Raven and the First People (Bill Reid), and Raven and the First Immigrant (Nicholas Galanin). Source: Nicholas Galanin, http://silverjackson.tumblr.com/

I’m a big fan of classic Northwest Coast art – it’s hard not to be.  But there is also a large and highly talented array of indigenous Northwest Coast artists who work in a variety of media and contemporary idioms.  One who recently caught my eye is Sitka Tlingit artist Nicholas Galanin.  You probably recognize the figure in the foreground above: Bill Reid’s iconic “Raven and the First People” (if not from class, then from your 20$ bill), which tells the story of Raven-Travelling in ancient times, finding a clamshell, hearing noises inside, and releasing people and animals  into a transforming world.

But wait, what’s that figure in the background, on the other side of the glass window, in the courtyard of the MOA?

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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.

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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.

Stone Fish

From the Hunterian, labelled as 19th Century.

From the Hunterian, labelled as 19th Century.

I can’t get enough of this Haida argillite fish which the Glasgow Hunterian Museum has in their collection. Well, they say it’s a fish but it looks like it has flukes and large fins and if anything it looks like a harbour porpoise.   On the other hand, there is a lateral line as well and the proportions are more like a herring. In any case, it is utterly charming and I have never seen a comparable carving.  It looks to be about 30 cm long, which is quite large.  More from the Hunterian in due course.