Charles Edenshaw

Charles Edenshaw (c.1839–1920) was a Haida artist[1] from Haida Gwaii, British Columbia, Canada. He is known for his woodcarving, argillite carving, jewellery, and painting.[2]


Edensew (the name also spelled Edensaw, or Edenso from the Haida chiefly name Idɨnsaw) was born at the Haida village of Skidegate, on Haida Gwaii, located 27 miles off of the coast of British Columbia Canada. His father was K'łajangk'una of the Nikwən Qiwe lineage of the Raven moiety. His mother, whose lineage identity he followed in the Haida matrilineal system, was Qawkúna (later Mrs. John Robson) of the Eagle moiety's Sdəłdás lineage, of which Charles eventually became chief. He spent his early years at Kiusta and Yatza in the northwestern Charlottes, i.e. the Queen Charlotte Islands (Haida Gwaii). His Haida name was Da.a xiigang[1] or Tahaygen, alternatively spelled Tahayren and Tahayghen.[3][4] He learned from his uncle, the Eagle chief Albert Edward Edenshaw. In 1884 he was baptised with his English name, which derived from Scotland's Bonnie Prince Charlie.

In addition to the chiefly name Idɨnsaw, he also held the titles Skɨl'wxan jas ("Fairies Coming to You as in a Big Wave"), Dahʼégɨn ("Noise in the Housepit"), Nəngkwigetklałs ("They Gave Ten Potlatches for Him").


He produced many commissioned works, including for the American Museum of Natural History.[1] His work is in many museum collections, and he served as consultant to many anthropologists. His works include bentwood boxes, rattles, masks, totem poles, and staffs, and he worked in wood, argillite, gold, and silver. His work was collected by the anthropologists Franz Boas and John R. Swanton.

He is specifically credited for advancing gold and silver engraving in traditional formline design.[1]


Edenshaw's marriage to Isabella Edenshaw (Yahgujanaas) was part of a long pattern of intermarriage between these two prominent Haida lineages. Together they parented five daughters (in chronological order): Emily (White), Agnus (Yeltatzie), Florence (Davidson), and Nora (Cogo).

Through his daughter Emily, Edenshaw is great-grandfather to the contemporary artists Michael Nicoll Yahgulanaas, Jim Hart and Lisa Hageman Yahgulanaas and great-great grandfather to many Haida artists. Edenshaw's daughter was the matriarch Florence Davidson, and is great grandfather to internationally renowned artists Robert Davidson, and Reg Davidson, and through Florence, he is grandfather to her daughter, the weaving artist Primrose Adams,[5] great-grandfather to her daughter the weaving artist Isabel Rorick.


  1. "Master Artists: Charles Edenshaw." Archived 24 November 2009 at the Wayback Machine American Museum of Natural History. (retrieved 3 March 2010)
  2. HAND TO HAND:The Legacy of Charles Edenshaw DVD 2005 Ravens and Eagles Productions,
  3. "Artists – Golden Age: Charles Edenshaw". Canadian Museum of Civilization. Retrieved 13 January 2010.
  4. "Charles Edenshaw (Tahayghen). Model Totem Pole". Art Gallery of Ontario. 18 March 2009. Retrieved 13 January 2010.
  5. "Primrose Adams Bio". Stonington Gallery. Archived from the original on 12 March 2017. Retrieved 11 March 2017.

Further reading

  • Blackman, Margaret B. (1982; rev. ed., 1992) During My Time: Florence Edenshaw Davidson, a Haida Woman. Seattle: University of Washington Press.
  • Harris, Christie (1966) Raven's Cry. New York: Atheneum. (Revised edition, Vancouver, Douglas & McIntyre, 1992.)
  • Macnair, Peter L., Alan L. Hoover, and Kevin Neary (1984) The Legacy: Tradition and Innovation in Northwest Coast Indian Art. Vancouver, B.C.: Douglas & McIntyre.
  • Augaitis, Daina; and Robin K. Wright, curators. Hart, James; and Robert Davidson, Haida advisors. Charles Edenshaw. Co-published by the Vancouver Art Gallery and Blackdog Publishing. Vancouver and London, 2013.
This article is issued from Wikipedia. The text is licensed under Creative Commons - Attribution - Sharealike. Additional terms may apply for the media files.