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Lot 0150
Pacific Northwest Coast, Haida, signed and dated Pat & Leona Stephenson '87 on the base. A wonderful totem hand-carved from argillite depicting a bear holding an upside-down figure by the legs, with an eagle head incised across the chest. The carving is so skillfully executed with intricate details. What's more, the argillite totem is quite sizeable. Argillite is a fine-grained sedimentary rock that is typically black in color and lustrous once polished; it often has an impressively smooth appearance that truly makes the incised carving come to life as we see in this example. In the 19th century, the Haida people began to carve this material as a trade good for visiting Europeans and Americans, because of the decline of their traditional economic practice of fishing. Argillite carvings served as a way to show their artistic merit in addition to introducing Northwest Coast iconography to the outside world. Size: 3.375" L x 3.75" W x 7.875" H (8.6 cm x 9.5 cm x 20 cm)

Various legends tell of a bear abducting a Chief's daughter. According to the story, this woman of high status had been out in the woods picking berries, when she stepped on some bear dung and cursed aloud, insulting the bear's cleanliness. Two nearby bears who heard her were upset and decided to teach her a lesson. One bear magically transformed himself into a dashing young man who approached this woman, and convinced her to accompany him to his mountain house. Upon falling in love with him, she too became partially bear-like. The two married and had twin cubs - born resembling bears but could metamorphose themselves into a human form just like their father. When the woman's brothers found her, they retaliated by killing her husband. They all then returned to the village, only the two bear sons felt out of place and eventually returned to the forest. All Bear Clan members are said to descend from this woman and her two sons. Hence, it is believed that there is a bear within every one of us, and that we must accept and embrace this in our lives.

Provenance: ex-John Rich collection, California, USA. John Rich was a notable Hollywood producer/director.

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Intact and superb! Signed Pat and Leona Stephenson '87 on the underside of the base. Four cork pads and slight tape mark on base.

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Northwest Coast Argillite Totem - Signed Stephenson '87

Estimate $4,000 - $6,000May 23