Happy Blowhole Pendant by Robert Davidson

By: Jacqui de Leeuw

Lot 14– Robert Charles Davidson (b. 1946), Haida HAPPY BLOWHOLE PENDANT, 1992 inscribed RD, dated and numbered 8/12 Estimate: $12,000—15,000 CAD

Celebrated Haida artist Robert Davidson is renowned for his mastery of traditional Haida art forms, including silver jewellery design. One of his notable creations is the “Happy Blowhole” Pendant, a striking piece that balances contemporary design with traditional Haida visual language. Originally cast in bronze, Davidson also cast an edition in gold, and a select edition of twelve in silver.

Central to the pendant’s imagery is a blowhole, a biological attribute of the whale but also a geological feature found along the coastline of Haida Gwaii. For the Haida people, the blowhole holds spiritual significance, symbolising the connection between the land, the sea, and the creatures that inhabit them. The pendant also contains a human face, a chief with an enormous smile. An eagle, or perhaps a thunderbird, can also be seen in the design.

The depiction of a humanoid face inside the blowhole of an orca is an old motif in Haida art. Orcas are of great significance in Haida mythology and are sometimes said to be the reincarnation of great chiefs, who when undersea, can remove their orca skins to reveal their human form.

The mystery of the pendant begins upon inspection. Elements of each figure in the design, such as the nose of the figure in the blowhole, integrate with the other elements to complete distinct images, which are also unified as a single whole (in this case the nose of the concealed figure is also the dorsal fluke of the whale, and the beak of a bird.) The characteristics of each figure combine to create a dynamic energy captured within the piece.

What sets the Happy Blowhole Pendant apart is the sense of joy and whimsy. Davidson’s interpretation of the blowhole is infused with a sense of playfulness, as if the pendant itself is alive with a joyous vitality. The curves of the silver seem to dance and swirl, capturing the energy of the ocean waves, the abalone details complementing the silver to make this a truly special piece.

About the auction:

Waddington’s West: First Nations & Inuit Art is available for bidding through June 27, 2024.

This auction features works by First Nations and Inuit artists, notably historic basketry, and sculpture in argillite, and cedar. Highlights include works in silver by important artists Robert Davidson and Charles Edenshaw; sculpture by Floyd Kuptana, Uriash Puqiqnak, Davidialuk Alasua Amittu, Latcholassie Akesuk, and Barnabus Arnasungaaq; and graphics by Kenojuak Ashevak, Pitseolak Ashoona, Luke Anguhadluq and Lutka Quiatsuk.

Items located in Vancouver, BC. Local pick up by appointment; shipment from Vancouver only.

Previews by appointment.

Please contact us for more information.

Related News

Start Collecting

Everything you need to know to get you started bidding in our auctions at Waddington’s.

Learn More

How to Sell

Find out why selecting Waddington’s is the right choice for consigning your works of art, wine or specialty items.

Learn More

Become a Member

Sign up for your Waddington’s account to start bidding, manage your invoices, and track items you're interested in.

Sign Up