Thursday, May 23, 2019

Haida Panel Pipes

Upcoming at First Arts Auction on may 28th, two Haida panel pipes of exception:

HAIDA,Whistle Pipe, c. 1835-1850, argillite, bone and abalone, 4.5 x 10.75 x 1 in, 11.4 x 27.3 x 2.5 cm

The pipe stem is surmounted by two men in European clothing; one man is depicted riding a dog, whose front paw is charmingly raised in greeting to the other. The pipe bowl depicts the head of a man in a European-style top hat. Quite amusingly he is forced to hold the whistle in his mouth, and the abalone inlay in his eyes makes it look like they are watering with the strain of the effort. The men’s men’s heads, carved from bone, are a further elaboration and source of rarity for this remarkable work

HAIDA, Ship Panel Pipe, c. 1840-1860, argillite, 4.25 x 14 x .5 in, 10.8 x 35.6 x 1.3 cm

A few of the earliest Haida ship panel pipes may have been created in the 1820s. By the 1840s Euro-American ships and their crews had become popular subjects for Haida argillite carvers, supplanting panel pipes with traditional Haida motifs. The artists found the exotic look of the ships themselves, their captains and sailors, and their cargoes fascinating. Ship panel pipes became highly prized trade goods, the subjects themselves providing a ready market for these fascinating creations.

The bow of the ship is adorned with a scrolled billet head, a common feature of sailing vessels from the period, and cluster of berries. Tobacco leaves decorate the keel halfway to the stern (tobacco was of course the very raison d’être for pipes and was thus an important motif, even though these elaborate works of art had become pipes in name only!). The woman at the bow and the man at the stern lean against the jumping legs of insects, probably grasshoppers. The woman at the center sits leaning against the ship’s deckhouse. Unlike the various animals that typically adorn ship panel pipes – mostly dogs and birds - the two insects are carved fully in the traditional Haida style.