Four Figure Argillite Panel Pipe by Lionel Samuels


Lionel Samuels, a renowned Haida artist, crafted this exquisite four-figure argillite panel pipe, showcasing the intricate artistry and rich cultural heritage of the Haida people. The pipe features a wolf, killer whale, thunderbird, and raven, symbolizing the deep connection and communication between these significant figures in Haida mythology. Measuring 8 inches in length, 3 inches in height, and 1 inch in width, this panel pipe stands as a testament to the delicate and challenging process of argillite carving.

Dimensions and Challenges

Creating a thin panel pipe of this size presents a significant challenge, as the argillite can easily break during the drilling process that connects the mouthpiece to the pipe bowl. Therefore, this particular piece, valued at $3800, reflects not only the artist’s skill but also the technical expertise needed to produce such a fine work without compromising its structural integrity.

Artist and Legacy

Collectors around the world highly seek Lionel Samuels’ works. Unfortunately, his passing in 2021 during the COVID-19 crisis marked a significant loss to the art community. Nevertheless, Samuels’ legacy continues through his masterful carvings, which capture the essence of Haida culture and artistic expression.

Haida Argillite Carving Tradition

For approximately 200 years, Haida artists have carved argillite sculptures. They have passed down their techniques and knowledge through generations in the villages of Masset and Skidegate. Consequently, the best artists produce intricate details and exceptional craftsmanship. Argillite, a type of slate rock, comes from Slatechuck Mountain near Skidegate on Haida-Gwaii.

Tools and Techniques

To carve argillite, Haida artists use a variety of tools, many of which they hand-make themselves. Initially, they start with rough cutting and then refine the shape with finer tools. To achieve a polished finish, they use fine abrasive materials to remove tool marks. In recent times, artists have added inlay materials such as ivory, bone, abalone shell, paua shell, catlinite, and others to enhance the visual appeal of their carvings.

Modern Innovations and Inlay

Incorporating inlays into argillite carvings adds a unique dimension to each piece. These inlays can include materials like ivory, bone, abalone shell, and more. As a result, the contrast highlights the intricate carvings and enhances the overall aesthetic. Over the past 50 years, Haida artists have created many remarkable argillite sculptures, blending traditional methods with contemporary innovations.

Additional Resources

To learn more about Haida argillite art and its history, consider exploring the following resources:

These resources provide a deeper understanding of the cultural significance and artistic techniques involved in Haida argillite carvings. Therefore, they offer valuable insights into this unique art form.

argillite panel pipe

Lionel Samuels    Haida  

Panel pipe – wolf, killer whale, thunderbird, & raven

Argillite – 8 x 1 x 3 inches