Haida Argillite Sculpture: A Masterpiece by Christian White


Christian White, a master artist from Masset, carved this stunning argillite sculpture of a raven with a light box. The piece features intricate inlays of catlinite, mother of pearl, and paua shell. Measuring 3.1 inches long, 2.25 inches wide, and 1.5 inches high, this sculpture showcases the fine detail and craftsmanship that make White’s works highly sought after among contemporary Haida argillite carvers. Although this particular piece has sold, it stands as a testament to the rich tradition and continuing evolution of Haida argillite carving.

Historical Context of Haida Argillite Carving

For approximately 200 years, Haida artists have crafted argillite sculptures. Over generations, these artists preserved and passed down their knowledge, particularly in the villages of Masset and Skidegate. Renowned for their intricate designs and superb craftsmanship, the older craftsmen left a legacy that continues to inspire and influence modern carvers.

The Unique Qualities of Argillite

Artists source argillite, a unique slate rock, from Slatechuck Mountain near the village of Skidegate on Haida Gwaii. Its fine grain and rich black color make it an ideal material for detailed carvings. To shape and carve argillite, carvers use a range of tools, many handmade. They use increasingly finer cutting tools and abrasive materials to polish out tool marks and achieve a smooth finish.

Modern Enhancements in Argillite Carving

In recent years, Haida artists have incorporated various inlay materials to enhance their carvings. They use ivory, bone, abalone shell, paua shell, and catlinite to add color and texture to argillite sculptures. These enhancements not only beautify the pieces but also reflect the artists’ innovative approaches and respect for traditional techniques.

Significance of Christian White’s Work

Christian White’s argillite carvings stand out in the art community. He blends traditional techniques with modern enhancements, setting his work apart and making his pieces highly sought after by collectors and enthusiasts. Consequently, the raven sculpture with a light box exemplifies his skill and creativity.


In summary, Haida argillite sculptures, such as those created by Christian White, are beautiful works of art and cultural treasures. They represent a continuation of a rich artistic tradition while incorporating modern elements that make each piece unique. Indeed, the raven with a light box sculpture, with its exquisite inlays and detailed craftsmanship, shines as an example of the excellence achieved by contemporary Haida argillite carvers.

For more information on Haida argillite carvings, you can explore the following resources:

argillite raven with light box

Christian White   Haida

Raven with light box

Argillite, catlinite, mother of pearl, & paua shell – 3.1 x2.25 x 1.5 inches