Stone cold cool

Photo: Parks Canada/C. Ashurst
Photo: Parks Canada/C. Ashurst

By Graham Richard —

This July, Gwaii Haanas offered up yet another Haida ancestral object from one of its many rich archaeological sites. Guusdagun Mary Hart found the bowl under a tree-well as part of a crew who were studying the area’s ecology. The heavy granite dish weighs 6.5 lbs, is 20 inches in diameter, 6 inches across 4 inches tall.

Such bowls were created from stone by chipping away with even harder stone, and then grinding and smoothing the inner surface with coarse stone. According to historian Captain Gold, stone bowls were likely multi-functional, given the long, laborious hours required to create one. They were used to prepare medicine, grind food, and pigments for paint, and eat meals from.

You’re making an impact with another rock. That’s how you work your way through stone,” explained Captain Gold. “I did that myself and used iron chisels. Even that took a long time. They used extremely hard stuff.”

The amount of labour required to make this type of bowl may also account for their rarity, and likely means that such objects were reserved for those of high-rank and passed down through generations.

The public will be able to see the bowl in the near future at the Haida Gwaii Museum at Kay Llnagaay, where it will reside in open storage.

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