alder wood, hair, argillite, and paint, 9 x 8 x 5 in (22.9 x 20.3 x 12.7 cm) excluding hair
inscribed in graphite by the artist, "Shark Woman / with argillite labret / made of alderwood / by Freda Diesing / July 1973".
ESTIMATE: $5,000 — $7,000
PRICE REALIZED: $8,400
Collection of Dr. George and Mrs. Joanne MacDonald, Cantley, Quebec, purchased from the artist;
Estate of Dr. George MacDonald.
Freda Diesing told George MacDonald that this mask was carved from the wood of an alder tree that was cut down during the excavation of the Lachane archaeological site (GbTo-33), Prince Rupert Harbour in 1972. Freda Diesing visited the site just as an argillite labret was exposed in the dig. She claimed that it came from Skidegate and declared she would make a mask to commemorate the find.
This beautiful Shark Woman (or Dogfish Woman) mask relates to the Haida story of a female ancestor who could transform herself into a dogfish ( a species of shark). In that form she was able to enter the undersea world. She is a crest belonging to a number of Haida clans. She is identifiable as such by the gills on her forehead and cheeks. Diesing's use of argillite for the labret truly is "inspired."