Detailed Description of Haida Argillite Sculpture by Lionel Samuels

Overview of the Sculpture

Lionel Samuels created this detailed Haida argillite sculpture, depicting a killer whale in motion with remarkable craftsmanship. Measuring 11 inches high, 5 inches wide, and 7 inches deep, the sculpture features a raven carved into the whale’s dorsal fin, symbolizing the deep cultural connections in Haida mythology.

Materials and Techniques

The sculpture showcases a variety of inlays, including:

  • Paua shell: Offers iridescent colors.
  • Catlinite: A red stone traditionally used in Native American art.
  • Mother of pearl: Provides a shimmering, opalescent quality.
  • Mastodon ivory: Adds rare and historic value.

Lionel Samuels expertly handled these materials, reflecting traditional techniques passed down through generations of Haida artists. He shaped and carved argillite, a slate rock from Slatechuck Mountain near Skidegate on Haida Gwaii, using hand-made tools and fine abrasive materials to polish out tool marks, achieving a smooth, refined finish.

Artistic and Cultural Significance

For approximately 200 years, Haida artists have carved argillite sculptures, passing down knowledge and techniques through generations in the villages of Masset and Skidegate. This continuity ensures the preservation of high-quality craftsmanship and cultural narratives. Recent additions of inlay materials like ivory, bone, abalone shell, and catlinite have enhanced the artistic and aesthetic value of these carvings.

Legacy of Lionel Samuels

Lionel Samuels, a revered artist, saw his works highly sought after by collectors. Sadly, he passed away in 2021 due to COVID-19, marking a significant loss to the Haida art community. However, his legacy lives on through his exquisite creations like this diving killer whale sculpture, which has already been sold, underscoring its immense value and admiration among art collectors.

Further Reading and Exploration

For those interested in exploring more about Haida argillite carvings and their historical context, consider these resources:

These sources offer comprehensive insights into the rich tradition of argillite carving and the exceptional artistry of the Haida people.

argillite diving killer whale

Lionel Samuels      Haida

Diving killer whale

 Argillite, paua shell, catlinite, mother of pearl & mastodon ivory – 11 x 7 x 5 inches