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Currently shown

Carved Pipe

Location

NORTHWEST COAST, BRITISH COLUMBIA, HAIDA GWAII (QUEEN CHARLOTTE ISLANDS)

Culture

Haida

Title

Carved Pipe

Date

Before 1860

Materials

Argillite

Dimensions

6.3 x 21.5 x 1.8 cm

Credits

Purchase, Deirdre M. Stevenson Fund, inv. 2010.22

Collection

Quebec and Canadian Art

Beginning in the 1840s, Haida carvers produced argillite portraits of European and American visitors to the Northwest Coast, often in the form of decorative pipes. This piece appears to depict the rescue of victims of a canoeing accident by two seated male figures. The shape at the centre of the composition evokes the bark canoes used in the fur trade, and below, a serpent, resembling the brass insignia on the Hudson’s Bay Company’s trade rifles, might be interpreted in this instance as a kind of clan crest of the traders. Although the Museum’s collection is rich in representations of First Nations subjects by non-Indigenous artists, this carving reverses the roles – here, the perennial observers are the observed.

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