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Charles Edenshaw (Tahayghen)

Bracelet

Charles Edenshaw (Tahayghen, 1839-1920), Haida, Haida Gwaii, British Columbia, late 19th / early 20th century


Learn more about Charles Edenshaw (Tahayghen, ca. 1839–1920)

Charles Edenshaw is the Euro-Canadian name for Tahayghen, the important Haida artist and leader. Considered the most renowned and accomplished artist of the Northwest Coast, Edenshaw’s artistic achievements place him as a a major figure in Canadian art history. Born in 1839, after first contact between the Haida and Euro-Canadians, he witnessed the human and cultural damage brought on by the 1862 smallpox epidemic. Edenshaw apprenticed under his maternal uncle, the master carver Eda’n (Albert Edward Edenshaw), producing work for both Indigenous and non-Indigenous patrons from his village of Masset in Haida Gwaii, British Columbia. He is heralded today for his masterful adaption of the basic organizing principle of all Northwest Coast art known as formline, a term invented in the 1960’s by Bill Holm. His work references Haida cosmology and belief systems, continuing the evolution of a centuries old artistic tradition. In the words of Bill Holm, Edenshaw’s work in the latter part of the 19th century and into the early 20th century ‘exemplifies the work of a highly competent, imaginative artist with absolute mastery of the tradition in which he worked, and who had developed a very personal version of that tradition.’ (see: Holm 1981, pg. 182) Eventually, Edenshaw became Chief of his clan during a very tumultuous time for him and his people.

Edenshaw produced a wide range of works in wood, argillite, silver, gold and occasionally sheep horn. Continuing Haida artistic traditions dating from before the arrival of Euro-Canadian missionaries, Edenshaw initially created totem poles, house posts, chests, chief’s settees, and other works intended for traditional use. Later, as missionaries discouraged the practice of traditional Haida culture, his focus shifted to art made for sale to outsiders, including painted spruce-root hats woven by his wife Isabella (K’woiyeng), model totem poles in wood and argillite, and bracelets and other engraved objects in silver and gold. As testimony to Edenshaw’s great accomplishment as an artist, he is reported to have supported his family exclusively through his artistic pursuits, without the need to supplement his income by hunting and fishing (see: Wright 2001, pg. 233). Charles Edenshaw’s work is highly sought after today, and is represented in the permanent collections of major institutions including The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; and The Vancouver Art Gallery, Vancouver.  


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Category: Charles Edenshaw (Tahayghen)

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 Spoon CN3996a

Spoon

Charles Edenshaw (Tahayghen or Da.a xiigang, c. 1839-1920)
Haida
Haida Gwaii, British Columbia
ca. 1880-1910
Inventory # CN3996a
Sold
Model Totem Pole N3857

Model Totem Pole

Charles Edenshaw (Tahayghen, 1839-1920)
Haida
Haida Gwaii, British Columbia
late 19th century
Inventory # N3857
Sold
Basketry Hat N3628

Basketry Hat

Charles Edenshaw (Tahayghen or Da.a xiigang, c. 1839-1920)
Haida
Haida Gwaii, British Columbia
late 19th century
Inventory # N3628
Sold
Model Totem Pole N3999

Model Totem Pole

Charles Edenshaw (Tahayghen, 1839-1920)
Haida
Haida Gwaii, British Columbia
late 19th century
Inventory # N3999
Sold

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