- Museum number
Argillite figure of a shaman or chieftain wearing a decorated blanket with a rope over shoulder. Part of face has been mended.
- Production date
- 1870-1900 (circa)
Height: 24.50 centimetres
Width: 10 centimetres
Depth: 6 centimetres
- Curator's comments
Three periods in argillite carving have been identified. The first, which lasted from 1820-1835 was dominated by the production of pipes carved with traditional Haida designs. The second overlapping period, from about 1830-1865 is dominated by the use of European and American motifs. Pipes were still the most prominent form, but other categories of object such as plates and figurines came to be made in argillite. The last period, from which this figure originates, lasted from 1870-1910 and saw the virtual disappearance of pipes and the emergence of a host of new forms including model totem poles, houses, figures of shamans and a great variety of plates, platters and bowls. The designs often show identifiable myths, or else subjects, such as shamans, which were of a sacred character. This period saw the greatest decline in Haida social life; this occurred through population decrease, brought about by the introduction of new diseases, and through the intrusion of missionaries attempting to persuade the Haida to abandon their traditional value systems. As shamans lost their social and religious significance so it became permissable to carve representations of them as curios for sale.
The Massett / Skidegate Haida delegation of September 2009 suggested that this figure may be a chief rather than a shaman as the sash / cord over his shoulder shows indications of being a representation of ermine, part of a chief's regalia.
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
1980 Feb-1983 Aug, Museum of Mankind, Room 9; Art Made for Strangers: Haida Argillite Carving
1976 27 Aug-1978 Oct, Museum of Mankind; The Inverarity Collection: Indian Art from the North West Coast of America
- Acquisition date
- Acquisition notes
- This object was purchased from Robert Bruce Inverarity in 1976. In his accompanying notes (Eth. Doc. 1225), he records that he purchased this object by mail order from a Chicago antiques dealer in 1948.
- Africa, Oceania and the Americas
- Registration number
- Additional IDs
Miscellaneous number: Item 31 (Inverarity collection number)