Raven Totem Sculpture

This small Raven sculpture was casted from artist Amos Wallace’s Argillite original. Amos was a member of the T’akdeintaan clan from Hoonah, his Tlingit name was Jeet Yaaw Dustaa.

This figurine depicts Brown Bear at the base of the totem with a Raven above. It is a cast from the original, dated 1967. It is 22.6cm or 8.9 inches tall and since it provides more surface area Amos could add a little more detail to this piece. This extra surface area was used to develop formline and add in additional figure.

This small totem was cast from an Amos Wallace original Argillite carving. Argillite is a type of slate, and Black Argillite is the preferred type because of its ability to hold strong while being carved, holds small detail well and has a shiny black luster.

Though Argillite is a stone it is easily carved with wood working tools.

Cultural Narrative: 

Traditionally, raven moiety members could only marry members of the Eagle moiety and Eagle moiety members could only marry Ravens. This idea of balance is one of the most important cornerstones of Tlingit culture, this balance is always considered whether it involves an individual or large groups. Argillite carving was common throughout Southeast Alaska, Haida Gwaii and the coast of British Columbia. The Haida are renowned for their Argillite artistry and have been very involved in preserving this style of Northwest Coast Art. Elder master artists would take on apprentices so that the art of a particular group would not die out as a result of an elder artist passing on. The skills learned while mastering wood carving are directly transferrable to working with Argillite.

Yeil (Raven)

Xoots (Brown Bear)

Ch’áak’ (Eagle)

At.óow (clan property)

Traditional Knowledge: 

Raven is one of two moieties of the Tlingit nation and is the transformer of the physical world for the Tlingit. The Brown Bear is a crest of the Eagle moiety and has a close relationship with humans. Extreme care would be taken by the artist when choosing what crests would be depicted in a piece or art. Considerations of clan at.óow (clan property) were part of the design process and all protocols would be followed with the utmost respect to incorporate these at.óow crests into the object the artist is working on and specific ceremonies would be required if clan at.óow is involved , especially when the item has been completed.  

Amos Wallace

Raven and bear figurine made of carved and polished argillite.

Cast from an original Amos Wallace carving dated 1966; purchased by Indian Arts and Crafts Board representatives from Baranof's Gift
Shop (Juneau, Alaska) in 1973; part of the IACB Headquarters collection (Department of the Interior, Washington, DC) until 2000
when it was transferred to NMAI.