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Bear Mother carving

Da.axiigang (Charles Edenshaw, Haida, 1839–1920), Bear Mother carving
ca. 1900
Queen Charlotte Islands, British Columbia
6 x 7 x 8 cm

“My father started carving one winter when he was sick. When he was fourteen he was sick all winter long. He was in bed, but he got some argillite and started carving a totem pole. After that he carved his first bracelet, out of silver-dollar pieces melted together.”
—Florence Edenshaw Davidson, 1982

This unique freestanding sculpture, carved in red argillite by Charles Edenshaw, illustrates one of Charles’s favorite stories, the Bear Mother and her two Cubs. Its uniqueness is that there are only a few carvings done in red argillite, and the two cubs are shown as one in the human state and the other in the animal state. Most illustration of this myth shows the cubs in the animal state. Charles’s ability to capture an expression of caring in the face of the Bear Mother has a haunting feeling. He pushed the boundaries of Haida art in many of his creations, and this is one of those creations in which he truly succeeds in capturing a moment in the story.

—Robert Davidson (Haida), master carver of totem poles, printmaker, painter, and jeweler

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