Inuit and First Nations Art
November 25 — 30, 2023
Auction begins to close at 7:00 pm ET
Lot 171 Details
Unidentified Artist, Haida
SHAMAN, CIRCA 1880
unsigned; old label affixed to underside with erroneous inscription reading: "Maori Stone Image / New Zealand / Carved Green"
8 x 3 x 2.25 in — 20.3 x 7.6 x 5.7 cm
Private Collection, British Columbia
Mysterious figures both within their communities as well as to outsiders, depictions of shamans both provoked curiosity and were a popular subject among early travellers and curio collectors on the Northwest Coast in the 19th century.
Among the Haida and their Northern Northwest Coast neighbours, shamans were regarded with both suspicion and respect. In the event of illness, their social function was acknowledged, and their services were sought out and paid for. Through their calling they had the power to deal with sickness, and were able to encourage the direct intervention of the spirits.
The present sculpture depicts a shaman with a fearsome visage, attired in the trappings of his profession: the bone septum piercing, fringed deerskin apron, stylized cedar headdress or topknot, and staff carved with a design of twisted cedar bark.
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