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Wooden dagger [.1] with grip wrapped in red wool textile, accompanied by sheath [.2] of black, red and brown textile edged with small white beads. [CAK 23/06/2009]

Longer Description

Wooden dagger [.1] with grip wrapped in red wool textile, accompanied by sheath [.2] of black, red and brown textile edged with small white beads. The dagger is carved from a single piece of wood. The blade is symmetrical and carved in low relief on one side. The blade has been carved with a fuller or groove down its centre. The reverse of the blade is smooth and flat. The dagger narrows at the handle. The handle is wrapped in a strip of red woollen textile. There is also a leather thong tied around the grip near the pommel. The pommel is carved in low relief on one side. A skate design consisting of two small eye holes and upturned mouth is carved on it. The end of the pommel narrows and forms what may be a fin above the head. The dagger is painted with a grey-black metallic pigment. The dagger fits inside a sheath made from black woollen textile (badly damaged; support from conservation netting is the most prominent material visible) and decorated with a double line of white, small beads. The sheath is attached to a carrying strap of red woollen textile backed with brown cotton textile and trimmed with the same double line of white beads. [CAK 23/06/2009]

Research Notes

The following information comes from Haida delegates who worked with the museum's collection in September 2009 as part of the project “Haida Material Culture in British Museums: Generating New Forms of Knowledge”:
This dagger and sheath were viewed alongside tools and domestic items on Monday Sept 14, 2009. Delegates identified the figure as a skate. Jason Alsop, Jaalen Edenshaw, Gwaai Edenshaw and Vernon Williams thought the most probable use for the dagger was as an accessory for dancing. Jaalen and Vern further noted that wooden daggers were carved for elders to dance with. The possibility that this (and other) daggers were shamanic was raised by Christian White who commented that shamans accompanied warriors in battle and would guide them, predict the weather, determine timing of raids, and protect them from the malevolence of other shamans. Christian continued, stating that shamans would need to fight against the enemy as well as opposing shamans. Discussion of Haida daggers more generally can be viewed on Tape 9, time 5:27, which can be found in the Haida Project Related Documents File. [CAK 12/04/2010]

Primary Documentation

Accession book entry (for 1891.49.43 and .44): 'From Rev. Ch. Harrison, 80 Halton Rd, Canonbury Sq. N. Collection of Haida objects collected by him.... - 2 Wooden daggers. £45. [Purchase price includes 1891.49.1-110]

No additional information on catalogue cards. [JC 4 9 1996]

Written on object - Haida Harrison coll. Purchased 1891. [NM 13 11 1996]


Related Documents File - A discussion of daggers can be viewed on Tape 9, time 5:27 within the Haida Project Related Documents File. The Haida Project Related Documents File contains video of research sessions and interviews with Haida delegates from September 2009 as part of the project ‘Haida Material Culture in British Museums: Generating New Forms of Knowledge'. It also includes post-visit communications that discuss object provenance. For extensive photographic, video, and textual records documenting the Haida research visit as a whole, including but not limited to preparations of objects for handling, travel logistics, British Museum participation, transcribed notes from research sessions and associated public events held at PRM, see the Haida Project Digital Archive, stored with the Accessions Registers. Original hand-written notes taken during research sessions have been accessioned into the Manuscripts collection, in addition to select other materials. [CAK 02/06/2010]

Item History

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