Christian White was born on July 17, 1962 in Queen Charlotte City, Haida Gwaii, B.C., and grew up in Masset. Christian’s predominant crests are Grizzly Bear, Dogfish, Raven Double-finned Killerwhale and Moon. Christian’s father, Morris White Chief Edenshaw was instrumental in teaching him the art of argillite carving at the age of fourteen. Christian belongs to a family of practicing artists and cultural preservers, his two brothers carve, his three sisters weaver cedar bark baskets and hats for cultural use, and his wife, Candice, is involved with elders and youths with regards to the preservation of language. In the past decade Morris and Christian White have been acknowledged as being large forces behind the revival of the art of canoe building and totem pole carving in Old Masset.
Carving since 1976, Christian’s mediums were wood, and whalebone, and has since successfully progressed to argillite. In more recent years argillite has become his primary medium, wood is a close second, often used specifically for cultural or ceremonial pieces. Christian had studied his cousins who had been carving in the late 60’s and who were, at that time, developing their own modern style. After researching the artwork of the 19th century Master’s along with the works of his cousin’s, Christian developed a personal style based on a narrative depiction of a specific moment within a myth or a story.
Christian hopes to influence the next generation of Haida artists, and has generally three apprentices on an ongoing basis. Several young people have come together in his community of Old Masset to form a traditional Haida song and dance group, “The Old Masset Dancers”. Christian believes performing the dances and singing the songs is a vital part of his culture and it makes him feel more complete as a person spiritually and physically.
2007 British Columbia Creative Achievement Award for First Nations’ Art
Works by this Artist (Present + Past + Public)
Argillite, Mother of Pearl, Abalone shell, Mastodon Ivory
The intelligent Eagle symbolizes status, power, peace and friendship. Eagle feathers are considered a sacred part of many ceremonies and rituals. The Eagle is known to mate with one partner for a lifetime.
In Haida legend, the Eagle and Raven are close companions and serve as alter egos.
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Price upon request
Argillite, Catlinite, Abalone shell
Argillite is grey colour and a relatively soft stone to carve which hardens over time as it begins to oxidize once removed from the mine. As it is relatively a limited resource, it is difficult to obtain large pieces from the quarry. Apart from small totem poles like this, the kinds of objects carved from Argillite include plates with carved and incised designs, pendants, pipes, small boxes, and sculptured figures.
Argillite, Catlinite, Abalone shell, Sterling silver
The Frog symbolizes luck, prosperity, stability and healing. As a communicator, Frogs connect with the world on land and under water. This figure is often carved into totem poles to prevent them from falling over.
Price upon request
Argillite, Catlinite, Abalone shell, Mother of Pearl
This ornately detailed panel pipe inlayed with catlanite, abalone shell and mother of pearl tells the ancient story of Nanasimgit.
The man or Nanasimgit is depicted at the bottom of the pipe holding skils to represent his stature. It shows the numerous potlatches he has held. The following story is a shortened version as told by the artist, Christian White:
One day, the man’s wife was washing sea otter skins near the ocean, when a Killerwhale arose from the surface. It coaxed her into the water and carried her seaward while her husband watched in disbelief. Without hesitation, he quickly decided to follow them until the Killerwhale dove near a two-headed kelp, which prevented him from going any further. He was feeling quite distraught as he returned back to the village but by then he had decided to seek the help of his uncle, the Frog.
The Frog offered him advice on how he could get his wife back and suggested that he take specific objects with him for his journey. He brought spruce root twine, a gimlet and medicine, placing them in his canoe. But, before he embarked on his journey, he was urged to undergo a fast in order to cleanse his body, which involved various rituals.
Once the fast was completed, the man embarked on his quest until he came across the kelp he had encountered before. He tied his canoe to the kelp along with his possessions and climbed down beneath the surface to find himself in another world. He followed a path where he encountered three blind women that resembled Geese. He used his medicine to cure two of the women while the third one chose not to accept the medicine. The cured women vowed to repay him for his deed. As he proceeded onward, the man came across two slaves, from the Killerwhale clan, chopping wood. As they proceeded to chop the wood, the head of their axe fell off and they began to cry knowing the consequences they would face from the Chief. The man stopped to assist them and in return they directed him to his wife’s dwelling. The slaves warned the man of the watchmen pole that stood in front of the longhouse protecting the inhabitants. The watchmen had the ability to scent out and watch out for intruders.
While he proceeded further on his path and thought about how to divert the watchmen, the man encountered a Heron repairing a canoe without success. The man stopped to offer him his gimlet to successfully repair the canoe. In return for his generosity, the Heron helped conceal the man under his wing blanket from the Black Whale guards and the watchmen. He successfully entered the longhouse to happily find his wife. At this point, the watchmen discovered the man taking his wife back with him, but were unable to stop him.
When the man arrived back with his wife to his village he felt a different connection with her, as though she was not herself. At night, he would keep her in a bentwood box, but one morning when he awoke, to his surprise she escaped. She left to be with her Killerwhale family and fully transformed into a Killerwhale. This was the last he saw of her.
4.75 x 10.25 x 1.25″ (without base)
8 x 12 x 5.25″ (with base)
The artist’s Past Works at our Gallery have now sold; however, commissions may be available – please inquire here (please note that not every artist accepts commissions).