Haida headdress frontlet

Date:
unknown, but before 1889
Record:
RBCM 19008
Artist:
attributed to Simeon sdiihldaa

This plaque was once part of a headdress adorned with flicker feathers, sea lion whiskers and a train of ermine skins. The crouching figure wears a dance apron and crown, and may represent a shaman. By the time the frontlet was donated to the Royal BC Museum in 1990, the rest of the headdress no longer existed. ‘Bella Coola’ is written on the back of the frontlet but the distinctive carving style indicates that the artist was Simeon sdiihldaa (1799-1889) of Old Massett. It seems likely that the headdress somehow travelled from Haida Gwaii to Bella Coola, and was acquired there by an unknown collector. When it arrived at the museum, the frontlet was split vertically down the centre and missing some abalone plaques and areas of paint. Expert repairs were done but the split in the centre is still visible. Although it would have been possible to completely disguise the break, it remains visible as an indication of the frontlet’s previous travels.

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This object selected by Dr Martha Black.