Man and Woman in Canoe with Totemic Animals
4 x 2 1/4 x 13 7/8 in. (10.2 x 5.7 x 35.2 cm)
First Nations (Canada)
Medium and Support:
Gift of Mrs. Nathaniel T. Whitcomb
Location: Currently on view
Argillite, a fine-grained sedimentary rock sometimes called “black slate,” is mined in the Queen Charlotte Islands, the only mineable source in North America. These small and easily transportable sculptures were first made by the Haida in the early 19th century for trade with outsiders. Here the canoe is filled with a raven, a bear and two human paddlers. The animals are totemic figures, relating to matrilineal clans; the human figure with longer hair may be a shaman. These sculptures are still being made today in an array of figure groupings and materials.
[Gallery label text, 2009]