OAs 10779

Please find more information about the object below the image.

Producer unknown to us

Depiction of a sea captain

Americas, North American North West Coast, Haida Gwaii

Around 1870

Argillite, ivory, carved

J. F. G. Umlauff (ethnographic dealership)

Donation to the museum by Umlauff in 1898

OAs 10779

This figurine of a sea captain was made around 1830–1860 by the Haida people in what is now British Columbia, Canada. It shows a White European or American holding his hands in his jacket pockets and wearing a hat of European origin.

Through its previous owner Umlauff, the object was originally attested to be of East Asian origin and inventoried accordingly ("OAs"); it was only a few years ago that it could be attributed to the Haida through the accidental discovery of a specialist visitor.

These interpretations illustrate the global trade routes of the period: Haida artists began to depict Euro-American traders and whalers in the early 19th century. These traders acquired Indigenous artifacts as souvenirs. Through fixed trade routes, furs were exchanged in Japan and China for porcelain and other goods for Europe. This is how this figurine made its way to Asia, was later discovered there by a collector (or an agent of the Umlauff trading house) and brought to Europe as a "souvenir from East Asia." 

Frank Usbeck