A very impressive large striking example of Haida argillite carving executed by master carver Rufus Moody (1923-1998). The totem features a large eagle mounted on a column of eleven potlatch rings of the chiefly beaver who has a wolf head peering out between his ears. The number of potlatch rings was a represntation of how many feasts the owner held.Signed to the bottom”Rufus Moody Skidegate Mission QCI BC 3/27/75″ and is in fine condition with no damages or repairs noted. The totem stands 15 1/4″ tall x 4″ w and 4″ deep and is a substantial heavy carving. One of Rufus finest pieces ever produced. Not many totems of this size or caliber come up on the open market.
Rufus Moody was born in Skidegate village, Haida Gwaii, on the Queen Charlotte Islands. He began his carving career well after the smallpox epidemic of the late 19th century (which decimated the Haida population from over 8000 to about 800), and well before the cultural and artistic resurgence of the early 1960s. While much of the culture was being pushed towards extinction through assimilation, argillite carving was still being promoted and encouraged by a very small existing market.
Rufus Moody is the son of Arthur Moody and grandson of Thomas, both who were renowned argillite carvers. The three generations of artists created a hereditary style, which was distinctive from other argillite artists. Rufus made his living solely as an artist and became one of the most prolific artists in the medium.
In the late 1950s, Rufus Moody in Skidegate and Claude Davidson in Masset began a teaching program to encourage and teach young Haida artists to carve. At the time, argillite was more readily available in larger pieces and Rufus began to carve very large works. He is accredited with carving the largest argillite pole, although there is some dispute over which of his major works is truly the largest. One of these poles is in the Museum of Anthropology, while another is in the Queen Charlotte Museum in Skidegate. A third is in a private collection and the fourth is in a corporate collection in downtown Vancouver.
Rufus trained with his father Arthur Moody and was the grandson of early argillite carver, Thomas Moody. Rufus was the uncle of Haida jeweller and carver, Garner Moody. In addition to being known as one of the most prolific argillite carvers of the twentieth century, Rufus was very well known for teaching younger artists to carve argillite. He taught such artists as Guujaaw and Wayne Wilson. Rufus produced the tallest argillite pole in the world, which stands 6-feet tall and is housed in Vancouver’s Museum of Anthropology. He also has a massive argillite pole in the Queen Charlotte Museum in Skidegate. Rufus received the Order of Canada in 1976 for his role as an established argillite carver and a teacher of the Arts. Rufus belonged to the Tanu Wolf Clan.