Argillite, Catlanite, Mastodon Ivory, Abalone, Mother of Pearl, Duuguust Stone
Christian White’s finely carved Argillite Lazy Son-in-Law Miniature Totem Pole cites a traditional oral story specific to the Haida Nation.This Totem begins atop with the Eagle, as the wise and great bird of the air who sits upon the Killer-whale, whose tail supports a female Shaman. Below these characters, the ‘Lazy Son-in-Law’ is disguised as a Sea Grizzly [Wasgo] with two human figures revealed within his ears and a Sea Lion grasped within his paws.
The Lazy Son-in-Law Story tells of an old mother-in-law who believed and chastised her young son-in-law for being lazy; sleeping in late, not taking care of his tools, not bringing in enough firewood and above all not catching enough fish or trapping enough game.
Growing tired of her nagging, the young son-in-law announced he was going inland for several days. Taking his best stone adze and several other tools he ventured to a nearby lake. Here, he cut down the tallest of Red Cedar trees and constructed a large trap- ready for the infamous Wasgo to appear.
Shortly, the water began to churn and the four-legged, finned Wasgo appeared snapping at the enticing bait. The young crafty hunter released the remaining cedar trap to ensnare and break the Seawolf’s back.After dragging the mighty Seawolf ashore, he skinned it, and burned its carcass in a great fire. The next night adorning the Seawolf skin he swam in the lake and finally out to sea.
The following evenings, he began to catch large prey, halibut, seals and sea-lions, not just one but many and placing them all as gifts on the old mother-in-law steps, and in the morning he would return home in human form silent to his adventures. Unaware of her son-in-laws newfound gift, the old woman began to sing her own praise; claiming how lucky they all were for her being in touch with the masters of the sea.
Soon, her pride knowing no boundaries she decided to hold a feast in honor of herself. The morning of the feast no gifts from the sea were to be found, but she did not fret as another good sign had occurred- her lazy son-in-law was nowhere to be seen. Guests arrived and celebrations were underway when Wasgo came forth from the sea bearing sea gifts. The daughter ran up to Wasgo with guests and mother behind. Although, no words were exchanged, everyone could see the eyes of the Wasgo belonged to that of the son-in-law.
From that day forth, no one ever bought fish to the hunter’s mother-in-law again for she fainted and died on the spot, but the daughter received sea gifts every morning, summer and winter, for the remainder of her life.
11.5" x 2.5" x 3" CAD $22,000.00
No. 604 CP-Yaletown-WTSG05 All measurements height x width x depth
Christian White was born on July 17, 1962 in Queen Charlotte City, Haida Gwaii, B.C., and grew up in Masset. Christian’s predominant crests are Grizzly Bear, Dogfish, Raven Double-finned Killerwhale and Moon. Christian’s father, Morris White Chief Edenshaw was instrumental in teaching him the art of argillite carving at the age of fourteen. Christian belongs to a family of practicing artists and cultural preservers, his two brothers carve, his three sisters weaver cedar bark baskets and hats for cultural use, and his wife, Candice, is involved with elders and youths with regards to the preservation of language. In the past decade Morris and Christian White have been acknowledged as being large forces behind the revival of the art of canoe building and totem pole carving in Old Masset.
Carving since 1976, Christian’s mediums were wood, and whalebone, and has since successfully progressed to argillite. In more recent years argillite has become his primary medium, wood is a close second, often used specifically for cultural or ceremonial pieces. Christian had studied his cousins who had been carving in the late 60’s and who were, at that time, developing their own modern style. After researching the artwork of the 19th century Master’s along with the works of his cousin’s, Christian developed a personal style based on a narrative depiction of a specific moment within a myth or a story.
Christian hopes to influence the next generation of Haida artists, and has generally three apprentices on an ongoing basis. Several young people have come together in his community of Old Masset to form a traditional Haida song and dance group, “The Old Masset Dancers”. Christian believes performing the dances and singing the songs is a vital part of his culture and it makes him feel more complete as a person spiritually and physically.
2007 British Columbia Creative Achievement Award for First Nations' Art