Lot 5
  • 5

Haida Polychrome Wood Doll

50,000 - 70,000 USD
bidding is closed


  • cloth, wood
composed of a single piece of wood, finely carved in the form of a woman, standing on splayed legs, the arms held firmly at the side, the deeply hollowed head fronted by a mask, with a labret in the extended lower lip, teeth bared, flaring nostrils, and large oval eye rims beneath thick arching brows, finely painted with stylized totemic designs, the coiffure sewn and applied with spruce gum; realistically depicted breasts and genitalia beneath the printed cotton two-piece shift.


Collected in Puget Sound by Captain William Martain in 1828

By family descent to Mrs. Sarah Ann Nichols (b. 1829), granddaughter of Captain Martain

Gift to the Woburn Public Library in the Winter of 1923

Catalogue Note

The discovery of this masterfully carved doll adds to a known corpus of four dolls, and one mask, by the "Jenna Cass" carver, one of the great Haida artists of the early 19th century. For a closely related example found in the Peabody-Essex Museum and a discussion please see John R. Grimes, Christian Feest and Mary Lou Curran, Uncommon Legacies, University of Washington Press, 2003, pp. 134-135: "Four female figures similar to this one are found in public collections around New England; all are from the hand of the artist who carved the Kaigani Haida woman's face mask included in the current exhibition (cat. No. 58). The figure shown here was acquired by a missionary sent to the Northwest by the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions...As with the mask, this figure was made for sale and has no pre-European antecedent." For another example in the Peabody Museum at Harvard, see Vaughan and Holm, Soft Gold, 1982, p. 160.