Examples of Argillite Carving — Clam Shell Box
Ornately carved cedar boxes were common amongst the tribes of the Pacific Northwest, and were made also for the scrimshaw trade. Some of the finest were done in argillite. Shown here is a reproduction of a large argillite box or casket in the Canadian Museum of History’s Haida Gwaii collection. We offer this box in a smaller size, suitable for desk use.
This rather large argillite box was first ascribed to Charles Edenshaw by Marius Barbeau, but later research indicates that it was made by John Robson, the stepfather of Edenshaw. This is a monumental piece, outstanding in its type and carving, done at the height of the early classic period. Made in Canada. The size of the original box is 16 x 12 x 7 inches. Our museum quality reproduction is smaller, 7-1/2 x 4-1/2 x 5 inches, made from a natural resin composite to attain the heft of the argillite original.
The front of the box shows the bear.
After the great flood, Raven was gorging himself on edibles on the beach. Hearing some strange sounds, he found a giant clamshell with little beings wiggling inside. He crooned and coaxed them out, and they were the first humans. The top of the box shows the people coming out of the clam shell, flanked on both sides by a frog and bear. (Another depiction of the great flood is shown on our Emerging Mankind Bracelet.)
The back of the box shows the mosquito crest.
The ends of the box show the beaver.
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