Edenshaw was a master carver of argillite, a “black slate” unique to the Haida Gwaii islands of the Pacific Northwest. Haida people traditionally carved in wood, but the advent of trading posts in the 1820s sparked this new art form for sale to European-Americans.
Wood was the traditional material for carving on the Northwest Coast, but with the advent of permanent trading posts in the 1820s the Haida of British Columbia began carving argillite for sale to European-Americans.
Starting around 1865, Haida artists carved traditional design motifs on argillite, a black shale found only in the Queen Charlotte Islands known as Haida Gwaii, the ancestral home to the Haida.
This platter representing a shark, a shaman and a halibut spirit helper, was carved around 1880 by Charles Edenshaw, one of the master artists of the Northwest Coast. It belonged to one of the largest collections of argillite art amassed in the early 20th century by Lee Morgan Pearsall, who bought from dealers selling historical pieces and works of living artists.
Curator, Latin American Art and Archaeology
Florida Museum of Natural History
Made by artist Charles Edenshaw, Canada
Dates to ~1880