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Dagger with fluted leaf-shaped iron blade and image of a skate. [CAK 12/05/2010]

Display History

PRM display label [1974 - 1975] - Iron dagger with simplified face on the hilt. Purch. 1899. [LM 17/04/2007]

Longer Description

Dagger with fluted leaf-shaped iron blade and image of a skate. The blade is 305 mm long. The hand grip is narrower and consists of two pieces of wood that encase the dagger. Near the hilt, the wooden grip is decorated with a triangular pattern. The wooden grip is bound with string, possibly made from cedar bark. Evidence of a decorative binding also exists: there are remnants of a the string and dirt-free areas on the grip that show a wide, criss-cross pattern on the outermost layer. There is a fringe of woven plant fibre, possibly nettle or hemp, at the base of the grip near the blade. The grip measures 82 mm in length, excluding the fringe. The hilt flares outward from the grip, making the hilt only slightly wider than the blade, and then tapers slightly toward a rounded end. The hilt is decorated with a figure: it is perforated with two small circles for eyes, and a thin downward-turned crescent shape for a mouth. The mouth is outlined with copper. The down-turned mouth, high forehead and flared sides of the hilt are indicative of a skate. The hilt measures 104 mm in length. [CAK 06/05/2009]

Primary Documentation

Accession Book Entry - 1899. Oct. W. D. WEBSTER. Bicester. - Steel dagger, Haida, British Columbia - 15/-'
Additional Accession Book Entry - 5-6-6 pd M. M. F. [Museum Maintenance of Collections Fund] 20.10.99 [price includes all items from 1899.78.1 - .17]

Catalogue Card Entry - There is no further information on the catalogue card. [CW 8 6 98]

Pitt Rivers Museum label - HAIDA, BRITISH COLUMBIA. Purch. 1899. [LM 17/04/2007] label detached during Haida visit [KJ 21/10/2009]

Pitt Rivers Museum Label - BRITISH COLUMBIA QUEEN CHARLOTTE Ids HAIDA GWAII Dagger with fluted blade. Purch. Webster 1899. [LKG 22/10/2009]

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]

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 was viewed alongside other weapons and tools on Monday Sept 14, 2009. Delegates repeatedly identified the figure as a skate. Christian White commented that the woven plant fibre on the handle was likely nettle or hemp. He thought the metal inset in the face was copper and characterised the blade as well-made. One suggestion is that the dagger was made from metal that had been cast and hammered into shape. He thought the dagger was used for killing, i.e. as a weapon. In addition to a skate, Christian thought the figure could be a shark. Jaalen Edenshaw also thought the dagger was functional, i.e used as a knife to kill. He observed that the groves down the dagger would enable it to be drawn out of a body smoothly with no suction. Gaahlaay (Lonnie Young) and Nika Collison in contrast, thought the dagger was ceremonial. Nika further commented that the shined copper used for the mouth of the skate was not something she had seen before. 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 12/05/2010]

Item History

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