Haida: Supernatural Stories - Exhibition - McCord Museum

Temporary exhibition

From April 25 to October 27, 2019

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SDING K’AWXANGS – Haida: Supernatural Stories

On their lush islands off the northwest coast of Canada, the Haida created a world of exceptional artistic expression—a world that enabled them to leave their mark on history, despite their virtual disappearance in the late 19th century.

Their artistic output demonstrates great technical skill and artistic versatility: carved and painted boxes, living masks, finely woven baskets, complex songs and dances, refined tattoos and imposing totem poles all communicate ideas, conventions, histories and philosophies through abstract and naturalistic forms.

  • Painted basketry hat, 1875-1900. Woven by Isabella Edenshaw (K’woiyang) (about 1858-1926) and painted by Charles Edenshaw (Tahayghen) (about 1839-1920). Spruce root and bark, paint. Collected by George Mercer Dawson. Gift of Mrs. William Markland Molson.  ME928.57.3 © McCord Museum
  • Puffin forehead mask. 1800-1850. Unknown artist. Red cedar wood, paint, eagle feathers?, fibre. Collected by George Mercer Dawson, possibly in Q’una (Skedans), 1878.  ME892.10 © McCord Museum.
  • Panel pipe, 1920-1930, Unknown artist. Argillite. Gift of Marion Ives
ME940.23. © McCord Museum.
  • Raven rattle, 1800-1850. Unknown artist. Alder wood, paint, sinew, cotton. Collected by George Mercer Dawson, 1878.  ME892.12.2 © McCord Museum
  • Pipe, 1820-1850. Unknown artist. Argillite. Gift of the Natural
History Society of Montreal.  M5059. © McCord Museum.
  • Artist unknown, Haida mask, 1800-1850, Collected by George Mercer Dawson in 1878. ME892.32.2 © McCord Museum
  • Basket painted by Charles Edenshaw and woven by his wife Isabella Edenshaw, Haida, 1921. Gift of the Art Association of Montreal, ACC1811 © McCord Museum

The exhibition, featuring a remarkable selection of rare historical Haida art objects  from the Museum’s collections, reveals a slice of this people’s rich heritage. Most of the objects were collected in 1878 by George Mercer Dawson on his travels through the Haida Gwaii archipelago. Contemporary Haida artists are continually exploring the ancient language of their art; it is the foundation on which new endeavours are built and the grammar with which future histories are written.

Works by seven contemporary Haida artists selected by guest curator Kwiaahwah Jones round out the exhibition. Several of the contemporary works will be created especially for the occasion. Jones, born in the Canadian Haida Gwaii archipelago, is a major figure in contemporary Haida art who is helping raise the visibility of this unique culture.


Discover the exhibition with guest curator Kwiaahwah Jones and learn more about Haida people’s rich heritage and exceptional artistic expression.

Not to be missed!

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