Object photography

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Object description

  • Haida artist
  • Pipe, about 1842
  • Wood, glass, pigment, stone
  • British Columbia, Pacific Northwest Coast, Canada
  • L: 17 1/8 in, W: 1 1/2 in, D: 3 in (L: 43.5 cm, W: 3.8 cm, D: 7.6 cm)
  • Gift of Captain Isaac Needham Chapman, 1849
  • E3492
  • Artist was influenced by the many sailing ships Northwest Coast tribal people saw during this timeframe
  • Likely acquired at the mouth of the Columbia River on one of the donor's many voyages there

In the 1820s, Haida artists began selling pipes carved from argillite (a dense, shale-like stone) to seamen and other travelers. These pipes depicted intertwined Haida cosmic beings. About a decade later, Haida's preferred subject was European sailing ships, detailed or stylized. A unique subset of these ship pipes were made from wood, as in this stellar example that features two model houses with inset glass windows, a chimney, a fantastic four-legged animal at the bow (possibly inspired by ship figureheads), and plants.


East India Marine Society Collection


This is a pipe known as a "ship panel pipe" carved out of wood and stone with lead inlay. The pipe depicts a fantastical land mammal, most likely a boar, standing on the bow atop a trailboard decorated with lanceolate leaves and berry motifs, which may represent indigenous, wild tobacco. The four-legged animal may have been inspired by ship figureheads seen by the carver. The defined hooves, small ears, swirling hair, nearly equal lengths of snout and lower jaw, and the placement of tusks all support the attribution of the animal being a boar. There are two ivory carved model houses with the leafy motifs. The chimney of the first house is made with stone, lined with lead, and acts as the bowl for the pipe. The windows for the two houses are formed with glass inlay. The pipe's mouth piece is carved out of stone and extends along the bottom of the pipe and is beautifully integrated with lead inlay and the carved wooden features. The pipe is also painted red, blue and white. Further remarks: Wooden ship panel pipes featuring Euroamerican motifs are rare (there are approximately 40 extant examples in museum collections known) and also a number exist in argillite. Some scholars suggest these could be Siberian trade items, but most are categorically attributed to Haida artists. Some posit that a Haida artist created these while on board a ship, either as a hired employee or when pressed into service aboard a New England whaler. Whether created at sea or at home, these pipes were likely created for sale, and to record his experiences and observances of Euro-American architectural structures associated with the forts they would have seen erected at home or on their travels. All "ship panel pipes" retain some variation on the ship's bow element and a flat, stylized hull or keel as a base (see "The Magic Leaves: A History of Haida Argillite Carving" by Peter L. Macnair and Alan L. Hoover, Victoria, British Columbia: Royal British Columbia Museum, 2002).

Exhibition History

  • Uncommon Legacies: Native American Art from the Peabody Essex Museum, Washington State Historical Society; October 11, 2005 through February 09, 2006
  • Intersections, Native American Art in a New Light, Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, MA.; June 24, 2006 through November 27, 2011