The Magic Leaves

Peter L. Macnair and Alan L. Hoover


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“Argillite carvings made for the souvenir, ethnographic and fine-art markets maintained and developed indigenous stylistic and narrative traditions. The beautiful black slate of Haida Gwaii continues to be a vehicle for profound expressions of Haida history and innovation.” – Martha Black, from the foreword.

The Royal Museum Shop is operated by the Royal BC Museum Foundation. All proceeds from the sale of merchandise go directly towards supporting the many fine programs and special events at the Royal BC Museum.

2002, paperback, 160 pages

duotone photographs

ISBN 978-0-7726-4773-3

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Argillite is a dense black shale mined from a quarry on Haida Gwaii, reserved for the exclusive use of Haida carvers.  Unique in style and character, argillite carvings range from ceremonial pipes to model poles, animal-form bowls to elaborate platters and chests. Haida artists have created and sold carvings in argillite since the 1820s. A force in the continuity of Haida art styles through the 19th and 20th centuries, argillite carving has inspired carvings in other materials, like gold and silver, and continues to be an important medium for contemporary Haida artists.
The Magic Leaves features more than 200 duotone photographs of argillite carvings from the extensive collection of the Royal BC Museum. These images illustrate Peter Macnair and Alan Hoover’s comprehensive history of the art form.

About the Authors

Peter L. Macnair is curator emeritus of ethnology at the Royal BC Museum, a post he held for more than 30 years. He is widely recognized for his knowledge of the art and history of the First Nations of the Northwest Coast.
Alan L. Hoover worked in the Royal BC Museum’s anthropology collections for 33 years and retired in 2003, as manager of the department. He is currently working on several projects related to anthropological and ethnohistoric studies.
Other books by the authors:


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