For approximately 200 years, Haida artists have carved argillite sculptures. Many of the older craftsmen whose activities and careers were well known have passed down their knowledge to their contemporaries in the villages of Massett and Skidegate. Some of the very best artists produce argillite carvings with the finest detail. Argillite is a slate rock found on Slatechuck Mountain near the village of Skidegate on Haida-Gwaii.

Argillite is shaped and carved with a wide range of tools. Many of the tools are hand-made. Argillite is carefully shaped with finer and finer cutting tools. Fine abrasive materials are often used to polish out tool marks. In more recent times, some artists have added inlay materials such as ivory, bone, abalone shell, paua shell, catlinite, and other materials to enhance the overall appearance of a carving.

It is unusual to have a mask carved out of argillite. Deceased Haida artist Ed Russ carved the argillite bear mask shown below. The mask is 2″ high, 2.5″ wide, and 2.5″ deep. The price of the mask is $450.

argillite bear mask

Ed Russ    Haida

Bear mask

Argillite – 2 x 2.5 x1.5 inches

$450