Saturday, December 29, 2018

Ojibwe Catlinite Effigy Pipe Bowl

As described by Sotheby's

 "Much has been learned about the origin of this extraordinary pipe since it was first offered at Sotheby's in 1993. One of six known pipes with the distinctive curved-neck horse created by the master carver Pabahmesad or Awbonwaishkum (aka One Who Uplifts By His Company),

Portrait of Awbonwaishkum by Paul Kane, 1845   
"This Chief is a man of great ingenuity and judgment" Paul Kane

on Manitoulin Island prior to 1845, 

Lake Michigan and Manitoulin Island, 1718

"it is the only known example in private hands and one of three thought to be complete; the other two complete examples are in the Karl May Museum in Radebeul Germany and in the National Museum of the American Indian, Smithsonian Institution, Washington D.C. (cat. no. 12/105).

Pipe bowl probably carved by Pabahmesad, Ojibway, Manitoulin Island, c.1845. 61⁄2" long (16.5 cm).
National Museum of the American Indian, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C. Cat No. 12/105

It is also the only known example in catlinite."

"The basis for much of what is known about these pipes is the documentation that was made by the Canadian artist Paul Kane.

Self Portrait, Paul Kane, 1845.
“On my return to Canada from the continent of Europe, where I had passed nearly four years in studying my profession as a painter, I determined to devote whatever talents and proficiency I possessed to the painting of a series of pictures illustrative of the North American Indians and scenery.”
- Paul Kane, preface to Wanderings of an artist among the Indians of North America (1859).

"While traveling through Europe, Kane met the American artist George Catlin. Catlin was then exhibiting and also lecturing in northern England and at Egyptian Hall in Piccadilly, London, on his paintings of Indians from the American prairies and the foothills of the Rockies.  

                             The routes of Indian painter George Catlin during the years 1830-1855                               Smithsonian Institution. 
The George Catlin Indian Gallery in the U. S. National Museum. Washington 1885

"In his book, Letters and notes on the manners, customs and conditions of the North American Indians (London and New York, 1841), published just before Kane’s arrival in London, Catlin predicts the early disappearance of the North American Indian because of his contacts with Europeans. 

Thus, he argues, it is the artist’s duty to record his features and customs for posterity, while this is still possible. 

Kane, obviously inspired by this argument, decided to do in Canada what Catlin had done in the United States." (Canadian Museum of History)

Kane visited the Manitoulin Island in 1845, sketching images of campsites,

wild life,

ceremonial dress, including elaborately decorated pipe stems,

Paul Kane,
Kee-akee-ka-saa-ka-wow, Plains Cree,
c. 1849–56, oil on canvas, 75.9 x 63.4 cm, Royal
Ontario Museum, Toronto
and pipe bowls 

"Stone Pipe Carved by Awbonwaishkum" by Paul Kane, 1845. Oil on paper. 71⁄2" x 121⁄4" (19.1 cm x 31.1 cm). 
 Courtesy of the Stark Museum of Art, Orange, Texas. Cat. No. 31.78.184

made by these talented carvers" for respected elders.

"Among the numerous Indians assembled here, was one that particularly attracted my attention from his venerable and dignified appearance. In reply to my inquiry, as to who he was, I learned that he was called Shawwanossoway, or 'One with his Face towards the West,' and that he was a great medicine-man, skilled in the past, present and future."

"A compelling essay by Arni Brownstone on these pipe makers appeared in American Indian Art Magazine, Summer 2011. The pipes, Brownstone tells us, were carved from a volcanic, Precambrian rock identified as chloritic schist and most likely obtained from exposures above Lake Huron.

Pipe bowl probably carved by Awbonwaishkum,
Ojibway or Ottawa, c.1845. Carved chloritic schist, glass beads.
" long (18.4 cm). © Royal Ontario Museum. Courtesy of Victoria University, Toronto, Ontario. Cat. No. HK924. 
Photograph by Brian Boyle.

"In his essay he writes: "We now appreciate that the narratives carved on these pipes from Manitoulin Island have complex religious, commercial, humorous, political, mythological and social overtones (2011:63)...Since it is rare to have documentation providing the names of nineteenth-century First Nations artists, we are fortunate to know the identities of the Manitoulin pipe makers Pabahmesad and Awbonwaishkum (ibid)."

Pipe Bowl, Ottawa, c. 1845. Carved chloritic schist, glass beads, 6.5" long

"Pipes are an integral part of Native American ceremonial life, the smoke from which is thought to carry prayers from the user to a supernatural or spiritual realm. The meaning of the narrative depicted on this pipe is known only to its maker leaving the outside viewer to ponder its significance."

"The quality and sensitivity of the carving on this pipe is exceptional and undeniable. The two standing figures, each with their hands pressed to their chest, appear to be bowing to each other in a sign of mutual respect. Or perhaps it is a sign of respect for the function of the pipe itself."

"The horse, with its gracefully curving neck, stylized mane of finely executed saw-tooth notches, resting its nose on the tulip-shaped bowl, adds complexity and visual appeal to the overall sculpture of the pipe."

But, the presence of the horse speaks to the mystery of the natural world, and the emotions that it can conjure."

For additional references: Harper, 1971, pp. 174-175; National Museum of the American Indian, Smithsonian Institution, Washington D.C. Cat. No. 12/105; Royal Ontario Museum Toronto, Cat. No.HD15A.

 Courtesy Sotheby's New York

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